Jill Hamilton
Director Corporate Communications
Phone: 515-261-5526


$750,000 grant from Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation establishes first of its kind, professorship for geriatrics and special needs dentistry

DES MOINES, IA (November 12, 2019) – The University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics has been awarded a $750,000 grant from the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation to establish a professorship in Geriatric and Special Needs Dentistry. Dr. Howard Cowen, a dentist and instructor at the university, was recognized as the professorship’s first awardee. The announcement was made during a ceremony celebrating Dr. Howard Cowen’s professional achievements and recognizing the stewards at The University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics.

The goal of the professorship, believed to be the only one of its kind in the U.S., is to focus on necessary training for geriatric patients and patients with special needs. Today, geriatrics and special needs dentistry is not recognized as a specialty field by the American Dental Association so the college remains unique among its peers with the only dedicated combined specialty department in the country.

“Dr. Howard Cowen’s career spans 38 years with a focus on ensuring that Iowa’s most vulnerable populations – including older adults and people with disabilities – have access to oral health care, which is important to overall health,” said Jeff Russell, Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation president. “In this role, he has trained thousands of dental students who are now better equipped and skilled to serve these special need populations.”

The goals of the professorship are to:

  • Fortify the graduate certificate program;
  • Expand the Geriatric and Special Needs Program for all pre-doctoral students; and
  • Develop models for multi-disciplinary geriatric patient care education and research.

Dr. Howard Cowen has been active with the College of Dentistry since 1982. He is the director of the Geriatric and Special Needs Dental Program and the director of the Geriatric and Special Needs Postgraduate Certification Program. Dr. Cowen’s specialty is geriatric dentistry with research interests focused on the epidemiology of oral disease in the elderly. In addition, Dr. Cowen works in the Geriatric and Special Needs Clinic and with the Geriatric Mobile Dental Unit. He is a fellow of the American Society of Geriatric Dentistry and a diplomate of the American Board of Special Care Dentistry.

About Delta Dental of Iowa
Delta Dental of Iowa, a not-for-profit health and wellness company, provides dental and vision benefits to more than 1.2 million Iowans. Locally focused and nationally networked, Delta Dental of Iowa invests in dental and vision health projects that focus on access to care, prevention, education and research. Since 2002, Delta Dental has invested more than $38 million to improve the oral and overall health of Iowans.

Delta Dental of Iowa is a member of the Delta Dental Plans Association, the leading national network of independent dental service corporations. The Delta Dental member companies provide dental benefits to more than 80 million Americans in more than 141,000 employee groups throughout the country. For more information, visit the website at


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Dr. Matt Mendenhall, CEO, Regional Development Authority; Dr. Howard Cowen, Director of the Geriatric & Special Needs Program, Geriatric Fellowship Program. The University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics; and Jeff Russell, President, Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation