Innovative Influence

Wilder-Smith’s Clinical Studies Inspire Participants’ Career Aspirations

Dr. Petra Wilder-Smith, UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic’s Director of Dentistry, serves low income dental patients in Orange County and abroad through the use of her innovative, portable oral cancer screening device and other breakthrough technologies.  A strong advocate for preventative medicine and educating populations about proper oral health, the research arm of her practice takes place at the Institute.

With over 400 subjects enrolled in more than 40 Institutional Review Board (IRB) clinical research protocols conducted by Institute researchers annually, Dr. Wilder-Smith has recruited participants for various studies.  These studies include evaluating revolutionary dental products and technologies.

Over the past few years, San Juan Capistrano resident Joey Coleman has been a steadfast participant in Dr. Wilder-Smith’s studies.  Through Dr. Wilder-Smith’s advocacy, Joey has learned about the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene through the use of effective dental products and the avoidance of harsh chemicals with the potential to cause tooth and gum decay.

“Some of my family members have not taken care of their teeth, which has always worried me,” stated Joey. “I have learned a lot more than I ever expected from Petra and her team of doctors, especially when it comes to oral and throat cancer.”

Joey has witnessed Dr. Wilder-Smith’s specialized care.  “Petra is approachable and always willing to share her expertise,” continued Joey.  “I have encouraged my friends and family to join her studies with many who have consistently participated.”

“Joey has raised awareness of UCI’s research within the Orange County community through his enthusiasm and passion for knowledge transfer and innovation,” stated Wilder-Smith.  “He has built bridges to local schools and colleges, encouraging friends and family to learn more about UCI and to join in the many research and educational opportunities provided by the university.”

A few of Joey’s friends have viewed their participation in the studies as transactional.  However, as a former high school baseball player and coach, he realized how pertinent oral cancer prevention was to him and those in his circle.

“Tobacco is a problem in baseball with many players regularly chewing tobacco and using various other nicotine products,” said Joey. “After learning about the consequences, I have shared the harmful effects of use, including tooth loss and gum decay with fellow players – especially with the younger players who I coached.”

As an aspiring attorney, Joey experienced other benefits from working with Dr. Wilder-Smith’s group.  “After learning about my interest in law, Petra introduced me to UCI Law students who served as consultants on her device patents and other intellectual property,” said Joey.  “I found enthusiastic mentorship from the UCI Law students, and gained a plethora of knowledge about the legal profession, including a valuable understanding of the cross-disciplinary pathway that leads from an initial idea to technology innovation that will ultimately improve health outcomes for all.  I learned that this journey encompasses a wide range of legal knowledge and specialties, ranging from patent law and trademarks to regulatory and safety, licensing, investment and contractual expertise.”

From interacting with the law students, Joey’s passion for the legal profession grew.  He is currently working with three different law firms and has since applied to law school, including UCI – his top choice.  Joey’s future career ambitions include working for a law firm or serving as an in-house counsel for a corporation.

“Petra and her team provide dental care to those who are underserved,” stated Joey, “With so many disadvantaged people in Orange County, I strive to launch a venture fund to assist those who are less fortunate in our community.”

“I hope that Joey’s exposure to scientific research and technical innovation through our studies will serve him well as he moves ahead with his lifelong dream of becoming an attorney focused on technology innovation and implementation,” stated Wilder-Smith.  “Wherever life takes him, I know that he will be a phenomenal success and I look forward to celebrating his many accomplishments in the years to come.”

Click here to learn more about Dr. Petra Wilder-Smith.