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Houston is home again for new chair of Diagnostic & Biomedical Sciences

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 3:38pm

Dr. Kalu Ogbureke is the new chairman of the Department of Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences.

Dr. Kalu Ogbureke

The new chairman of the Department of Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences at The University of Texas School of Dentistry is making Houston his home for the second time.  Professor Kalu U. Ogbureke, BDS, MSc, DMSc, JD, left a tenured position at Georgia Health Sciences University to return to UTSD.

“This opportunity is a great one for me,” he said. “I always wanted to come back to Texas.”

Ogbureke (pronounced “oh-burr-ECK-ee”) is a native of Nigeria who earned his dental degree from the University of Ibadan, a master’s degree in medical science from the University of Glasgow in Scotland, a doctorate in oral biology from Harvard University, and a law degree from Suffolk University Law School in Boston. 

Between Scotland and Boston, Ogbureke lived and worked in Houston in the early 1990s – initially coming for a three-month visit that turned into a two-and-a-half year stay. He spent most of it in the Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Department at the School of Dentistry, with the last six months at Baylor College of Medicine. He left for pathology training at Harvard, then completed a two-and-a-half year fellowship at the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) in Bethesda, MD, as well as a graduate certificate program at Johns Hopkins University.

Eventually, he settled in Georgia, where his wife, Ezinne Ogbureke, DMD, and two of their four children still live as they finish the school year before joining him in Houston. The older children are in college.

Although Ogbureke is still getting settled – he began his job here Oct. 15 – he said his general priorities for the department include “growing our research, taking it to the next level, and making it more visible.”

He noted that the department’s advances in diagnostic services, nurtured by the former chair, Jerry Bouquot, DDS, MS, must also be preserved. The department has two divisions:  Diagnostic Sciences, led by Professor Ted Pate, PhD, and Biomedical Sciences, led by Professor Nadarajah Vigneswaran, BDS, DMD.

Ogbureke’s other priority is making sure the work environment is such that the faculty and staff look forward to coming to work. “Not that everyone has to agree all the time; we’ll have occasional differences of ideas and opinions,” he said. “But there should still be the sense that we all have a stake in the department. And ultimately, that will translate to the school in its entirety.”

He plans to continue his grant- and NIH-funded research into head and neck cancers, and he will also likely continue his work as a legal consultant and speaker.

Always interested in a law career, as a young man Ogbureke followed his parents’ wishes and went into dentistry. But when the opportunity arose in 1999 to go to law school, he took it.  Now admitted to practice in Georgia, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia and certified to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court, he focuses on health law and policy, and forensic odontology.

Ogbureke is certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology and the American Board of Medical Malpractice. He is a fellow of the American College of Legal Medicine and serves on the Board of Examiners of the American Board of Medical Malpractice.