New Dean Leads College of Dental Medicine

Christian S. Stohler, DMD

An expert on pain management and jaw disorders was named dean of Columbia’s College of Dental Medicine this year. Christian S. Stohler, DMD, DrMedDent, joined Columbia Aug. 1, 2013. He also serves as senior vice president of Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Stohler was dean of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in Baltimore before moving to Columbia. At Maryland, Dr. Stohler led a curriculum update, oversaw Maryland’s expansion to become the largest public dental school in the United States, obtained the volunteer commitment of more than 200 practicing dentists to teach real-world dentistry, fostered faculty entrepreneurship, re-engineered the school’s business operation, and expanded the school’s global presence. Dr. Stohler also led the construction of new, fully digital academic and clinical facilities on the university’s downtown Baltimore campus and a smaller facility in Perryville, Md., which is digitally managed from the downtown campus. 

Before joining the University of Maryland in 2003, Dr. Stohler spent more than 20 years at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he was professor at the School of Dentistry, research scientist at the Center for Human Growth and Development, director of research at the School of Dentistry, and professor and chair of the Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences. 

Dr. Stohler has helped lead NIH-funded work into the genetics, endocrinology, and neurobiology of the human response to pain—particularly in patients with TMJD, a chronic and painful jaw joint disorder that affects from 5 percent to 12 percent of the population. He was a member of the team that was the first to show that thinking that a placebo will relieve pain is enough to prompt the brain to release endorphins, the body’s own painkillers, and that this corresponds with a reduction in how much pain a person experiences. Dr. Stohler has authored more than 120 articles and book chapters that have been cited more than 5,400 times.

Dr. Stohler received his DMD from the University of Bern in Switzerland, where he also earned his DrMedDent in hematology and certificates in oral surgery and prosthodontics. 

He received the Jerome M. & Dorothy Schweitzer Research Award from the Greater New York Academy of Prosthodontics and the Horace Wells Merit Award from the Connecticut State Dental Association. He also has been honored by the National Dental Association, the Orthodontic Education and Research Foundation, and the Pierre Fauchard Academy, the international dental honor society. He has chaired the Board of Scientific Counselors at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and is a fellow of the American College of Dentistry and of the International College of Dentistry.

Dr. Stohler succeeds Ira B. Lamster, DDS, who stepped down in 2012 after a decade of leadership at the dental school. Ronnie Myers, DDS, vice dean for administrative affairs for the College of Dental Medicine, served as interim dean during the search.