April 24, 2023

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New faculty join UMMC academic ranks

Published on Monday, April 24, 2023

Medical Center leadership is proud to announce the following additions to its faculty and leadership staff.

Dr. Howard Joe Burns

Howard Burns

Dr. Howard Joe Burns, recently in solo dental practice in Ridgeland, has joined the Medical Center faculty as an assistant professor of care planning and restorative sciences in the School of Dentistry.

Burns earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1989 at the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry in Memphis. He was in a solo practice in Ridgeland for eight years, starting in 1989, before joining Dr. Mark Blackburn in a practice partnership. Following Blackburn’s retirement, Burns resumed his solo practice in 2005.

A former adjunct faculty member at UMMC, Burns is a member of the American College of Dentists, American Dental Association and Mississippi Dental Association, which he served as president in 2017.

His community service includes volunteering at the Mission First Dental Clinic in Jackson for 28 years and participating in the Mississippi Mission of Mercy Project, an outreach initiative of the Mississippi Dental Foundation.

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Dr. Marcos Lenza

Marcos Lenza

Dr. Marcos Lenza, recently professor and chair of the Lenza Institute of Postgraduate Education in Dentistry in Goiania, Brazil, has joined the Medical Center faculty as professor and chair of orthodontics in the School of Dentistry.

Lenza received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1979 from the Federal University of Goias School of Dentistry in Brazil. He also holds a Master of Science degree in pediatric dentistry and a PhD in oral biology and a certificate in orthodontics from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry in Lincoln. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Orthodontics at the University of Aarhus School of Dentistry in Aarhus, Denmark.

Lenza has almost four decades of service as a department chair, program chair, faculty member, director, vice chair or assistant dean among various institutions, including the Anapolis University School of Dentistry in Anapolis, Brazil; Federal University of Goias School of Dentistry; and University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry; as well as the Lenza Institute.

He has developed a variety of didactic materials relating to orthodontics, including those covering such areas as biomechanics, diagnosis and treatment planning, facial esthetics, maxillary expansion, and more.

Lenza’s research experience is extensive. He has co-authored around 30 publications in scholarly journals and is the author or co-author of  three book chapters.

At the Federal University of Goias School of Dentistry, he was named Professor of the Year three times. He has received numerous other awards and honors, including those from the House of Representatives of the State of Goias, Brazil; and the Sao Paulo Orthodontic Society.

At the Lenza Institute of Dentistry, he oversaw a program that provides free orthodontic treatment for underprivileged patients and operates a food bank.

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Dr. Ramana Vaka

Ramana Vaka

Dr. Ramana Vaka, recently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute in Ontario, Canada, has joined the Medical Center faculty as an instructor of pharmacology/toxicology in the School of Medicine.

Vaka earned his Master of Pharmacy at the Bombay College of Pharmacy, University of Mumbai, in Mumbai, India, before receiving his PhD in experimental therapeutics and pharmacology from the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 2019.

Before beginning his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Ottawa, in 2020, Vaka was a postdoctoral fellow in clinical pharmacology at the University of Southern California-Allergan in Irvine, California.

He has made a number of oral presentations at scientific conferences and is the coauthor of at least 20 peer-reviewed publications and more than three dozen abstracts. He serves as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, Journal of Clinical Medicine, International Journal of Molecular Sciences and other professional journals.

Vaka is a member of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society and American Physiological Society.