An instructional lab that will help train future dentists across the country is up and running in Alton.
The $9.5 million John and Anna Markarian Multidisciplinary Simulation Laboratory was formally dedicated on the School of Dental Medicine campus this past month. The event at the facility of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville was attended by numerous dignitaries, including the family of the building’s namesakes.
John and the late Anna Markarian are the parents of three successful school alumni – Drs. John, Ronald and Randall Markarian.
“The (Markarian) brothers stepped up early in the process and provided a lead gift to help equip the new simulation lab,” said school dean Bruce Rotter. “In honor of John and Anna, and to demonstrate our appreciation for the generosity, kindness and loyalty of the Markarian family, the new laboratory space is dedicated in their name.”
“I am so proud to be a SIU School of Dental Medicine graduate,” said Randall Markarian, who spoke on behalf of the family. “My parents always stressed education for us, and my father admired dentists. He prodded us toward dentistry as a career. We are grateful for the lives that dentistry has provided for us.”
Rotter also acknowledged Dr. Neal Roller and his wife, Marilyn, who also provided a generous lead gift to the project.
“The new simulation units are a marked technological advancement for our educational program,” Rotter said. Students will get a more authentic simulation of a genuine patient treatment experience, he said.
Construction of the structure began in October 2012. The School of Dental Medicine received $4.1 million from the state when Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn signed legislation in 2009 that created the $31 billion “Illinois Jobs Now!” plan.
The lab will be a primary site of instruction for 100 pre-doctoral students in Year I and Year II. It contains 60 simulation units. The 18,000-square-foot addition also will include a ceramic reconstruction room, X-ray room, casting and dispensing areas.
The project also included a new fitness center in the facility’s lower level.
The SIU School of Dental Medicine students manage approximately 35,000 patient visits each year at its patient clinics in Alton and East St. Louis. In addition, students offer oral health treatment, screenings and education to more than 10,000 people annually through a wide variety of off-campus community outreach events. These training opportunities are critical to the dental school, which is the only one within 200 miles of the St. Louis metropolitan area.