Donald Nixdorf becomes vice president of INfORM

Donald Nixdorf, DDS, MS

Donald Nixdorf, DDS, MS, Director of the Division of Temporomandibular Disorders & Orofacial Pain, became vice president of the International Network of Orofacial Pain and Related Disorders Methodology (INfORM) in July.

“I am excited to continue the work of the people who came before me, and continue to make an impact in the realm of orofacial pain,” Nixdorf said of the appointment.

Formerly known as the International RDC/TMD Consortium Network, INfORM is housed under the International Association for Dental Research. Nixdorf began his term as vice president after taking office during the IADR’s annual meeting.

Faculty at the School of Dentistry have been highly involved with INfORM since its early years, proving pivotal to the field’s research on TMD and orofacial pain. Jim Fricton, DDS, MS, professor emeritus, Eric Schiffman, DDS, MS, Gary Anderson, DDS, MS and others developed a great deal of the foundational knowledge that INfORM was built off of. Notably, with members of the consortium, they led the development of the DC/TMD, the only validated diagnostic classification in dentistry. “Our research in the Division has been closely aligned with the goals of INfORM,” Nixdorf explained, “and those are to understand diagnostic process of orofacial pain, as well as the development of instruments like questionnaires to measure important aspects related to the patient’s pain.”

Today, Nixdorf’s research seeks to build on the work of those that came before, specifically exploring the pain that occurs after a root canal treatment. “There are some really great leaders that have done a great job with TMD,” he explained, “but there are other areas where dentists do not have enough information to make a diagnosis and help their patients.” He has served as treasurer of INfORM in the past, and has stayed involved in collaborative research efforts with members from across the country and the world.

When a colleague suggested Nixdorf put his name in the hat for vice president, he saw it as an opportunity to further the work that his predecessors have begun. “The work is not over once validation has been achieved,” he explained. “Rather, we need to determine how we can make the diagnostic tool work better in different clinical settings.”

In the new role, Nixdorf will have a hands-on role in leading the future of INfORM and shaping its priorities. “I will be carrying the torch that the people before me lit and passed on, keeping things moving forward while staying true to the methodology component that makes us different from other research areas and organizations,” he said.

Though the role is large, and comes with much responsibility, Nixdorf is looking forward to what he can do. “This is one of those organizations where, working together, you are able to produce more than you could by yourself.” The “inherently multidisciplinary” group brings together epidemiologists, psychologists and other professionals to understand pain from a holistic perspective.

“I consider them good friends as well as good researchers,” he said.

At the end of his term, Nixdorf will consider himself a successful leader if he is able to further the methodology behind pain research and foster an intellectually stimulating exchange of ideas.

“The people that came before me have developed a great organization which I am proud to be a member of,” he said. “I am excited to continue that good work and see the ways it continues to impact lives.”