SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah's new School of Dentistry has secured its first dean, university officials announced Thursday.

Rena D'Souza will head the School of Dentistry, which was approved by the State Board of Regents in July 2012 and welcomes its first class of 20 students this August.

D'Souza is known internationally for her research in craniofacial development, genetics, tooth development and regenerative dental medicine. She served a four-year term on the National Advisory Dental and Craniofacial Research Council and is currently a director on the Friends of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research board.

"Dr. D’Souza has excelled in every aspect of academic dentistry," Vivian Lee, senior vice president for health services at the University of Utah, said in a prepared statement. "She has earned the respect of her students and peers for her teaching and has contributed significantly to research."

One of D’Souza’s first acts as dean will be to help the school break ground on a 70,000-square-foot building this summer. The facility will feature dental clinic operators, classrooms, research laboratories and administrative offices for faculty.

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The building is expected to be completed in late 2014. Until then, dental students will share classroom and laboratory space with the university's medical, nursing and pharmacy departments.

“I am wonderfully excited and humbled by the opportunity to lead the School of Dentistry at the University of Utah, where the spirit of collaboration and entrepreneurship is exemplary," D'Souza said in a prepared statement. "The quality and character of the faculty, students, staff and senior administration and their sense of pride and commitment in seeing the school grow into one of the finest in the nation is truly impressive."


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