Faculty: Dr. Ford Grant
Among the limbs in Dr. Ford Grant’s family tree is a link to Daniel Boone. But it’s the roots of that family tree that guided the clinical associate professor in East Carolina University’s School of Dental Medicine toward his career.
“My grandfather, uncle and great uncle were all dentists. I always had an interest,” Grant said. “But dentistry became the main focus after my pre-med advisor told me dental school was too competitive and discouraged me from applying.”
Grant serves as the director of the Community Service Learning Center (CSLC) in Ahoskie where he helps dental students refine their skills while caring for community members who may not have access to dental care otherwise.
“If you are trying to help with access to care, there is no better place than working for one of the most innovative schools in the country in one of the most underserved areas of our state,” Grant said. “This is the number one mission. You are not just meeting the need but multiplying the potential access to care by training our students and residents.”
Grant grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, a city he called “a wonderful place.”
“I could walk or ride my bike to grade school,” he said. “There was no internet or cell phones and only two TV channels. On our black and white TV, I cheered on Louisville’s own Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) to win the Olympic gold medal. I watched JFK’s funeral and Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon. I went to school, church, worked and lived in the same zip code most of my life.”
Grant recalls an incident in his youth when a friend on his street came down with polio, a virus that can infect the spinal cord and cause paralysis.
“We all had to stay in our house. We couldn’t go out to play,” Grant said. “Over the next year, the polio vaccine was developed. I remember walking with my family to my grade school to wait in a huge line to take the Sabin vaccine in sugar cube form.”
Grant attended the University of Louisville, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in biology and then graduating from its School of Dentistry. He did his general practice residency at the University of Louisville Humana Hospital and then moved on to the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging for a dentistry geriatric fellowship.
After his general practice residency, Grant took a part-time faculty position teaching periodontics and started a solo general dentistry practice. However, as his practice began to grow, he realized he missed teaching. He shifted gears, completed a fellowship and joined the faculty at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte as director of geriatric dentistry. He came to ECU eight years ago.
He enjoys working at the CSLC in Ahoskie, located in northeastern North Carolina, where he fulfills a dental need with rural community members. He also instructs and advises the next generation of dentists.
“I would usually tell students to dig in and work hard. Study hard. Volunteer whenever you can. Treat as many patients as you can. Be kind to those around you and help one another get through. Don’t forget to have fun. Four years goes by fast,” Grant said. “Now in the age of COVID-19, I say, ‘Hang in there, this will pass, and we will get this country back on track. Do what you can to help others each day.’”
Grant credits Dr. Greg Chadwick, dean of the School of Dental Medicine, in encouraging him to leave Charlotte to open the school’s first CSLC.
“I had planned to be here two or three years or until it wasn’t fun anymore,” Grant said. “My wife and I are still here eight years later. Even in these uncertain times, it is hard but still exciting and fun to go to work. We have a truly unique delivery system for training future leaders in the dental profession and providing access to dental care at ECU. We are fortunate to be a part of that.”
Time at ECU: Eight years this July
Research interests: Special care, geriatrics, teledentistry, oral medicine, access to care
What I do at ECU: “As director of the Ahoskie CSLC, I work with students and residents as they build on their knowledge and refine their dental skills while caring for our community.”
What I love about ECU: “The people I work with are amazing. The students seem fully engaged in the mission. Leadership listens and acts. We are one team working together to serve others. I feel the School of Dental Medicine has accomplished things that former critics did not believe possible.”
Name: Dr. Ford T. Grant
Title: Clinical Associate Professor and Director, ECU School of Dental Medicine, Community Service Learning Center-Ahoskie
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Colleges attended and degrees: University of Louisville, Bachelor of Arts in Biology; University of Louisville Systems Science Institute, focus on Health Care Delivery Simulation; University of Louisville School of Dentistry; University of Louisville Humana Hospital, General Practice Residency Certificate; University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, Medicine-Dentistry Geriatric Fellowship
Last thing I watched on TV: “‘Outlander.’ Don’t judge, it’s my wife’s favorite, plus the Scottish/N.C. thing.”
First job: “Other than cutting grass, my first real paycheck was from Burger Queen, not Burger King. I lasted a week. When my assistant manager showed me how to mix mop water by adding Clorox to ammonia, over my objections, I put in my resignation. Don’t try this at home.”
Guilty pleasure: Golf
Favorite meal: “Toss-up between good hand-tossed pizza, grilled ribeye or barbecue ribs. Do not let Dr. Jones see this.”
One thing most people don’t know about me: “Anyone who has been around me for more than a month knows every story I tell. But they may not know I was the youngest licensed real estate agent in Kentucky when I passed the state exam at 18 years old. It was a long time ago, but it wasn’t all log cabins.”