Oral Surgery Chair to Step Down After 30 Years

Contributor
School of Dentistry

“There’s never a dull moment in academics,” says Dr. Tony Pogrel, a native of Liverpool, in an accent familiar to anyone who has listened to “Abbey Road.” “(Academia) really is the best combination. We get to teach the dental students, carry out research and train the residents as well. You can’t put that together any other way.”

Over the last 30 years, Pogrel has seen his fair share of residents with the UCSF Department of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, having served as the chairperson since 1994.

This year, he will be stepping down as chairperson and leaving behind a program that has consistently been a leader in the field, covering the whole spectrum of the specialty.

“UCSF has produced some great oral surgeons over the years. We’ve certainly supplied academics to programs all over the country,” said Pogrel. “It is a great feeling knowing that we trained them.”

Running a department is a balancing act, working with world-class faculty, a vocal group of alumni and the constant pressure to keep the program at the forefront of the specialty.

Looking back on his time as the chair, Pogrel quips, “To survive for 19 years must say something.”

Asked what advice he would give to the incoming chairperson, he answered, “Just listen. Don’t just try to impose your will. The bottom line is: Carry your faculty with you.”

Although he will no longer be chair, don’t expect Pogrel to be picking up golf any time soon. He has had a number of interesting offers, from Europe to Africa, but plans to stay in the Bay Area, where his family is located.

He hopes to still teach part time, and will have the opportunity to help in shaping the future of the department in the changing landscape of health care.

Trained as a general surgeon in England, Pogrel has seen it all in the operating room. “I do not have a reputation for being one of the world’s greatest surgeons, but I think I do have a reputation as a fairly unflappable surgeon. I always have an alternative treatment ready,” he said.

Pogrel does have a reputation as a world-class leader in his field who will be greatly missed in the Oral Surgery department, but one can’t help but be excited with the prospect of where his future “alternative” endeavors may take him.