Newswise — CHICAGO – The AAE is announcing the recipients of its highly prestigious awards to formally be presented at the Association’s annual meeting in Nashville this April.

“The AAE is comprised of thousands of members who are all committed to promoting the dental specialty, best standard of patient care and professional development through academia, research and service,” said AAE President Dr. Keith V. Krell. “These particular individuals, that the Association is honoring, are among the best within the endodontic field and it’s various arenas.” “It is my honor to announce these winners.”

Clara M. Spatafore, D.D.S., M.S., will receive the Edgar D. Coolidge Award. Named for Edgar D. Coolidge, a pioneer in endodontics, recipients of this award—the AAE’s highest honor—are an elite group of individuals who serve as role models for the entire endodontic community.

Dr. Spatafore is the department chair of endodontics at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry. She attended West Virginia University where she received her undergraduate degree in medical technology. Dr. Spatafore then earned her D.D.S., M.S. and Certificate in Endodontics from West Virginia University School of Dentistry.

She has been a member of the AAE since 1987 and held a variety of leadership roles with the organization’s Board, including president, president-elect, vice president and secretary of its Executive Committee as well as a director. Dr. Spatafore is an accomplished author and lecturer. She served in the U.S. Navy and was a lieutenant commander. She is a recipient of the Distinguished Dentist Award from Pierre Fauchard Academy, the Italian Woman of the Year from Italian Heritage Festival, WVU School of Dentistry’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Dr. Spatafore earned two Letters of Commendation from the United States Navy. 

Kenneth N. Namerow, D.D.S., is winning the I.B. Bender Lifetime Educator Award. This award acknowledges a member whose contributions to endodontics in the area of education have demonstrated excellence through selfless commitment to full-time educational pursuits, and whose valuable contributions have instilled in his/her students the desire to pursue excellence in their careers.

Dr. Namerow is department chair of endodontics at Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine. He is a past president of the College of Diplomates and has published dozens of articles. He served in the U.S. Army, provided donated dental care to underserved communities across the world and secured a $700,000 endowment for a professorship at the NSU College of Dental Medicine which bears his name. Dr. Namerow was named “Professor of the Year” in 2013-2014 at Nova Southeastern University CMD.

Anibal R. Diogenes, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., is being bestowed with the Edward M. Osetek Educator Award. This award is given to a member that has been a full-time educator for up to 10 years; has demonstrated status as an outstanding educator by earning the esteem and respect of his/her students and faculty associates; by the quality of former/current students and their impact on endodontics; and by receiving invitations to present endodontic seminars, lectures or workshops at other educational institutions.

Dr. Diogenes is an associate professor and the director of the endodontic residency program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He was recently honored with the International Association of Dental Research (IADR) Pulp Biology and Regeneration Distinguished Scientist and the Journal of Dental Research Cover of the Year award. He has contributed the development of many endodontic programs and served as an advisor and mentor to students. He is also a member of the AAE’s Editorial Board Committee.

Stephen P. Niemczyk, D.M.D., will be presented with the Calvin D. Torneck Part-time Educator Award. This award recognizes a part-time educator in a predoctoral or advanced specialty program in endodontics whose valuable contributions have demonstrated dedication to endodontics and instilled in his/her students the desire to pursue excellence in their careers.

Dr. Niemczyk is an assistant program director at Albert Einstein Medical Center with the Department of Dental Medicine and Post Graduate Endodontics. He was also director of endodontic microsurgery and clinical professor at Harvard University School of Dental Medicine. He has presented on hundreds of topics, contributed to or authored six books and 13 reports.  He is the recipient of many awards, including consecutively receiving the Earl Banks Hoyt Award for Academic Teaching Excellence.

Anil Kishen, B.D.S., M.D.S., Ph.D., is being honored with the Louis I. Grossman Award. This award recognizes an author for cumulative publication of significant research studies that have made an extraordinary contribution to endodontology.

Dr. Kishen is a professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Dentistry. He has published more than 135 journal publications, 20 book chapters, three books, and co-invented eight patents/invention disclosures. He has received several awards including Enterprise Challenge Innovator (Singapore), American Association of Endodontists Foundation-Denstply-Research Excellence and W. W. Wood Award for Excellence in Dental Education from The Association of Canadian Faculties of Dentistry. He is a prolific researcher whose work is focused on nanobiomaterials and phototherapeutics to fight oral health infections and improve patient outcomes. He specifically studies topics in endodontic infections and analyses interactions between host tissue and harmful bacteria.

Mahmoud Torabinejad, D.M.D., M.S.D., Ph.D., receives the Ralph Sommer Award. This award is given to the principal author(s) of a publication of specific significance to the science and art of endodontology.

Dr. Torabinejad was an adjunct professor at Loma Linda University, University of Pacific in San Francisco, University of California in San Francisco. He has presented on over 100 topics, authored 271 articles and has won the following awards: Iranian Gold Medal of Education, Ralph F. Sommer Award of the AAE, Louis I. Grossman Award of the AAE, Philanthropic award of the AAE Foundation, the Edgar D. Coolidge Award of the AAE, Louis I. Grossman Award of the French Association of Endodontists, LLUAHSC Vanguard Award for the Mission of Healing, Distinguished Dental School Research Award, Loma Linda University (LLU) Distinguished Investigator Award.

Alejandro M. Aguirre, M.B.A., D.D.S., is being celebrated with the Spirit of Service Lifetime Award. This award acknowledges a member who has demonstrated the true spirit of leadership either recently or over the years.

Dr. Aguirre is an endodontist with Endodontic Associates Limited in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metropolitan area of Minnesota. He has his master’s in business administration and is a member or past member of local, state and national boards of different dental and volunteer organizations. Aside from being a skilled endodontist, his background also includes entrepreneurship, finance, business analytics, association management and leadership development, parliamentary procedure, diversity and inclusion, and consulting in all aspects of leadership especially on developing emerging leaders from traditionally underrepresented groups. His community service work includes Minnesota Mission of Mercy, where he was the first chair of the committee and raised over $300,000 in cash donations and involved in passing a new state law to allow out-of-state dentists who want to come to Minnesota to treat patients to obtain a temporary license.

Lynda L. Davenport R.D.A., FAADOM, will receive Honorary Membership which is granted by the Board of Directors in acknowledgment of their significant contributions that have furthered the advancement of endodontics.

Ms. Davenport is the practice manager for Endodontic Associates in Nashville. She has owned and managed a contracting business and was the president of a manufacturing company. She was a professional track organizer for AAE events, served on the AAE’s Annual Meeting Planning Committee and was Chair of the Special Committee on Professional Staff Development. She currently serves at The Heimerdinger Foundation – Board of Directors and as chair of the Ambassador Committee, which is a nonprofit to support patients undergoing cancer treatment with foods identified to fight the side effects of cancer treatment.


About the American Association of Endodontists:  The AAE is headquartered in Chicago and represents more than 8,000 members worldwide. Endodontics is one of nine dental specialties formally recognized by the American Dental Association. The AAE, founded in 1943, is dedicated to excellence in the art and science of endodontics and to the highest standard of patient care. The Association inspires its members to pursue professional advancement and personal fulfillment through education, research, advocacy, leadership, communication and service. For more information about the AAE, visit the Association’s website at For more patient focused information, visit