NUS Dentistry to welcome esteemed orofacial pain specialist Professor Chris Peck as new Dean

Professor Chris Peck, an esteemed orofacial pain specialist, educator and research scientist, has been named the new Dean of NUS Dentistry, a role he will assume from 23 August 2023.

His appointment follows an extensive search within the University and globally, said NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye. “We are delighted to appoint Prof Chris Peck to helm our Faculty of Dentistry. Given Prof Peck’s extensive leadership in education, research, clinical service and administration as well as his ability to engage and connect with different stakeholders, he is well-placed to work together with the Faculty of Dentistry community to drive the Faculty’s advancement to its next phase of becoming a dental institution of international distinction,” Prof Tan added.

Prof Peck said that he was “extremely proud” to be joining NUS and the Faculty of Dentistry, noting that “NUS has demonstrated extraordinary academic achievements locally and internationally with an enviable record of impact”. “The dentistry faculty has established itself as world-class in education and produces diverse research with productive industry and community links and a focus on community benefit,” he said.  

“It’s a privilege to be the next Dean of the Faculty and I very much look forward to working with staff and students leveraging the 3Cs – collaboration, community engagement and a commitment to create a positive impact – to build on the past achievements in improving health and wellbeing in Singapore and beyond,” he added.

Prof Peck is a respected authority in the field of chronic pain. Internationally recognised for his translational research and clinical work, he has led diverse interdisciplinary research teams and cross-border collaborations to study persistent pain and its management. Funded over the past two decades through Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, he has co-developed models that explain the impact of pain on normal function, the brain mechanisms that underlie persistent oral and facial pain, and a standardised international classification of orofacial pain. He has also overseen international research and clinical groups such as the International Network for Orofacial Pain and Related Disorders and the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Orofacial Pain.

Before joining NUS, he chaired the Board of Directors of the Australian Dental Council – Australia’s dental accreditation authority – and helmed the orofacial pain clinical, education and research services at Australia’s renowned MJ Cousins pain management and research centre. In these capacities, he oversaw the revision of Australia’s dental competencies and developed an inaugural collaborative university-industry postgraduate course, among other accomplishments.

He has also spent the past two decades at the University of Sydney, where he has had several leadership roles, including Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry and Vice Chancellor’s Delegate for the Westmead Precinct in Western Sydney.

As Dean of one of Australia’s top dental schools, Prof Peck prioritised creating a positive community impact with his leadership. This was achieved through academic initiatives that included a dental research strategy focusing on “putting the mouth into health” by forging collaborations between health and non-health disciplines and reforming the faculty’s undergraduate and postgraduate educational programmes. These initiatives led to an increase in research growth and ranking, as well as enhanced relevancy, reputation, and student experience for the faculty.

As Vice Chancellor’s Delegate for Australia’s largest health precinct, Prof Peck led the development and implementation of the university’s interfaculty academic strategy and oversaw many interdisciplinary, inventive and integrated initiatives. These included research projects co-created with the community in sustainable health and health literacy; micro-credentialing in human-centred design in health and technology innovation; and tighter collaboration with hospitals, health networks and communities to determine future community needs and health workforce models.

Prof Peck will be taking over the role from Associate Professor Wong Mun Loke, who has served as Acting Dean since December 2021.

Associate Professor Adrian Yap, who is Head and Senior Consultant of the Department of Dentistry at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, said of Prof Peck’s appointment: “Over the last three decades, Chris has grown from strength to strength as a clinician, educator, researcher, and administrator. His contributions to the development of classification schemes and understanding of chronic pain mechanisms have been invaluable for advancing the quality of care of orofacial pain patients.” 

Assoc Prof Yap, who is also Clinical Associate Professor at NUS Dentistry and Adjunct Associate Professor at Duke-NUS Medical School, shared that he has known Prof Peck since the early 1990s, when they were both involved in an international consortium fostering evidence-based diagnosis and management of orofacial pain and jaw disorders. 

“During his tenure as Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Sydney, Chris demonstrated visionary leadership by elevating the profile of Dentistry through multidisciplinary pain management approaches as well as interprofessional research and education,” added Clinical Assoc Prof Yap. “Given his vast experience and outstanding track record, I have no doubts that the Faculty will continue to thrive, nurturing the next generation of dental professionals, and making groundbreaking strides in research and education.” 

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