Dr-McNeil.jpg Co-Investigator
Dr. Dan McNeil

Behavioral dentistry and behavioral medicine, including pain, are my principal areas of research focus. Special focus is on the conceptual understanding of anxiety, fear, and pain, including their psychopathological manifestations in anxiety disorders or chronic pain. Dental fear and phobia are particular areas of interest. Other emotions and emotional disorders, such as depression, are of interest because they frequently co-occur with these states. As I have a commitment to diversity issues in psychology and dentistry, specifically targeted toward American Indians and Alaska Natives, I have blended my research interests on anxiety with that population. My investigations in dentistry have primarily converged on assessment, working to understand dental fear and phobia, their components, functions, and sequelae. This research concentration also allows me to integrate my research with teaching of dental students and work with dental faculty. As a result of my work on pain and anxiety/fear in dental settings, I have become involved in other areas of behavioral dentistry, including orthodontics and pediatric dentistry. I am also interested in the oral (dental) health problems of people in West Virginia and elsewhere in Appalachia.
 JohnThomas.jpg Co-Investigator
Dr. John G. Thomas

John G. Thomas, a clinical microbiologist for more than 41 years, returned from a 6 month Sabbatical, on January 5, 2008, as a Visiting Professor at Cardiff University School of Dental Medicine, Wales, UK. His primary purpose was to unmask the link between dental flora and ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP) via the endotracheal biofilm in a 25 patient ICU study. Since 2007, Professor Thomas has traveled greater than 100,000 miles, covering four continents, 16 countries, and has presented to greater than 15,000 scientists, dentists, and public health individuals integrating clinical microbiology, biofilms, antibiotic resistance and links between oral and systemic disease. Highlights included: keynote speaker at the American Association of Endodontics in Philadelphia, Opening Session, (March); Symposium Presentation at World Dental Congress, CFDI, Dubai (October); Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Chartered 1599), Glasgow, (November); and the Eastman Dental School, College of London and New Castle University, New Castle, UK (December). Dr. Thomas integrates 4 academic and educational positions at West Virginia University: School of Medicine, Pathology, School of Dentistry, Periodontology, School of Pharmacy, and Graduate School, Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology. He also holds teaching positions at Rutgers University and internationally is a Visiting Professor a Cardiff University, School of Dental Medicine and National University of Singapore, School of Dentistry. In 2008, Dr. Thomas was invited to join the Scientific Advisory Council, ADA, and in 2007, he was awarded the Mountain Award, the highest achievement for University Teaching, recognized by students.
 Dr-Chertok.jpg Co-Investigator
Dr. Ilana Chertok

Dr. Chertok is an Associate Professor at WVU’s School of Nursing. As an epidemiologist, nurse researcher, and lactation consultant, the primary focus of her research is examining factors influencing maternal-infant health and lactation outcomes among women of various cultures. She is an international researcher, conducting research in the USA and in Israel. Dr. Chertok has also been conducting population-based research, in an effort to elucidate some of the health issues affecting maternal-infant dyads in West Virginia. She has published articles in peer-reviewed journals and a book chapter as well as presented her work in national and international forums.
 Dr-Kao.jpg Oral Evaluators
Elizabeth Kao, DMD, FAGD

Dr. Elizabeth Kao is a professor at West Virginia University School of Dentistry, Department of Restorative Dentistry. She receives her BA and MA degrees in Biology from Boston University and a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the University of Pennsylvania School Of Dental Medicine. Because of her interest in combining dental practice, teaching, scholarly advancement and research; she has chosen an academic career at the Ohio State University and West Virginia University. Dr. Kao is a Fellow of Academy of General Dentistry and has received several student research development awards and research challenge awards during her tenure. She is the principal investigator and co-investigator of studies ranging from dental education, behavioral science, dental materials, particulate and bio-aerosols, enhanced digital technology and population studies that involve drug information, perception of esthetics; and oral health and cognitive function. She has secured funding from National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, American Dental Association Health Foundation, American Association of Orthodontics, and many university and commercial grants. She owns a US patent for dental glass ionomer. She has lectured and presented in local and national dental societies in U.S, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Australia. Dr. Kao is a reviewer for AADR’s Award, Fellowship and Grants committee, and a scientific reviewer for dental journals. Dr. Kao maintains an active faculty practice in general dentistry and she is interested in dental disease prevention, crown and bridge, implants and cosmetic dentistry. Dr. Kao is excited to be able to study oral health disparity in Appalachia, and to implement intervention program that spans from prenatal to geriatric population.
 RC-Wiener,-DMD--112.jpg Dr. R. Constance Wiener, MA, DMD

R. Constance Wiener, MA, DMD, is a researcher at WVU. She grew up in Western Pennsylvania near Wellsburg, W.Va., attended Washington and Jefferson College, and the University of Pittsburgh. She was in private practice, taught at the WVU School of Dentistry and worked as Acting Chief Dental Officer at QNBMHCF, Belcourt, ND for Health and Human Services. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Health at West Virginia University. Constance has also authored a number of important peer-reviewed research articles. She has always been a children's advocate and looks forward to working on this very important project.
 LINDA.JPG Linda Brown, RDH

Linda is the oral evaluator for our Southern team of researchers. She grew up in Kanawha County and graduated from WVIT in 1997 with her degree in Dental Hygiene. She worked in private practices for 8 years before becoming part of West Virginia University School of Dentistry's research team in December of 2004. She is excited to start working with participants on this study. She states, “I love what I do because with this type of research, we will make a difference in West Virginia's population regarding dental health and the prevention of dental disease. By studying genetic links to dental disease, we give hope to our future generations.” She is a member of the ADHA and the WVDHA
Tiffany Ngan, BA

Tiffany Ngan is a research coordinator and research assistant at West Virginia University School of Dentistry. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College and is pursuing a Master’s of Public Health at West Virginia University. Because of her interest in combining dental disparity research and behavioral psychology she has chosen to work on multiple research grants through West Virginia University. Ms. Ngan has been involved in multiple research studies and publications through the Departments of Dentistry and Psychology.
Stella Chapman, BS, MPH

Stella Chapman is the Program Manager for this research project. She has been employed with the School of Dentistry’s Office of Dental Research since 2005. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in biology from West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, W.Va. She’s thrilled to be playing a role in this very exciting project. If you are interested in enrolling in the Factors Contributing to Oral Health Disparities in Appalachia project or have questions about the project please feel free to e-mail Stella at or call 1-877-WVTEETH (988-3384).