Professor Dr. Wihaskoro Sosroseno



Prof Wihas, on behalf of MDSA, I would like to say thank you for accepting our invitation to be interviewed for our new project- Interview with the Experts. Can you share with us your story leading up to your former position as the Dean of AIMST University?

After I have graduated from University of Gadjah Mada in Indonesia in 1985, I immediately joined as a trainee lecturer in the same University. Meanwhile, I had received a scholarship to go abroad for postgraduate programme. In 1988, my postgraduate training was started in Queensland University, Australia. I finished my postgraduate in 1992.I did my first postgdoctorate fellow again in Queensland University in 1993-1994. In 1995, I went to VRITE University in Holland to continue my postdoctorate and in the same year I came back to work. In 2000, I resigned from Gadjah Mada University and joined Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Health Campus located in Kelantan, Malaysia. However, resignation was made and I decided to join AIMST University due to the opportunity given by Prof. Frederick Smales, the dean of AIMST University in 2006. In 2010, without  formal appointment, I was looking after the dental school after the resignation of Prof. Smales. I was formally appointed as an acting dean in 2013 and as a full Dean in 2014 until 13th March 2016.  Then, I came back to the position as a lecturer.

Previously, you were a lecturer in a university in Indonesia (University of Gadjah Mada) , USM, Malaysia and right now as a former Dean in AIMST University. How was your experience here in Malaysia? What are the differences you experienced in these 3 universities?

Back in Indonesia, Gadjah Mada University is a public university. As in public university, you don’t have much freedom to do whatever you like. There are strict rules in Public University that you have to follow. It is exactly the same as in USM. The main difference between Gadjah Mada University and USM is the academic language to be used in teaching. The academic language of USM is Malay, but we are allowed to teach in English. Furthermore, the concept of dental school is different as well. Non-department system is applied in USM while department system is applied in Gadjah Mada University. As a dental student in Gadjah Mada University, you may have to stay in the particular department for about 3 weeks, such as prosthodontics to complete the work task and cases before you can move on to another department. Whereas in USM,  the dental students work as if they are in a polyclinic which is the same system applied in AIMST University where they are allowed to take any cases everyday without any issue. In Malaysia, the dental schools are following the footsteps of the universities in United Kingdom.

In your opinion, what can be done to improve the oral healthcare system in Malaysia?

In terms of human resources, undoubtedly it is the biggest issue that we have to come across with nowadays in Malaysia. As there are quite a number of fresh graduates graduating every year and waiting for their posting in hospital. Some of them even faced the problem of being jobless within the one and a half year after graduation. Practically, the facilities are inadequate for the practitioners to provide oral healthcare service to the public, especially in Sabah and Sarawak. This issue mainly occurs in the remote areas, however it seems fine and advanced in Peninsular Malaysia. Hence, I think if the government could put more effort in increasing the facilities, then the issue of human resource will  subsequently been solved.

What is the criteria to be a good dentist?

Definitely you have to be very good in academic field as there are so much knowledge and specialities you have to learn and grasp. Besides, as you know, dentistry is a kind of art, you are required to act like an artist in order to rebuild and conserve the teeth back to its original state. You have to be creative, innovative,practical to solve the cases and adaptable depend on the facilities you handle. More importantly, a good dentist should be community-oriented which means you have to be able to attract the people to look after their own oral hygiene at the community level and also as an individual who is responsible for their oral hygiene. Once you have achieved these criteria, I believe that you would be able to work at any facility no matter where you are by being a good dentist.

One of your specialities is on Bone Biology. As we know, dental material is an advancing field in Dental specialities. Can you tell us more about this speciality and its future prospect?

Basically, oral biology and dental material are the basics of dentistry knowledge. By knowing oral biology, it will be much easier for us to deal with clinical cases such as to diagnose and plan a treatment. Hence, with these 2 specialities, we will be able to deal with many difficult cases. Bone biology and oral biology are as important as clinical specialty. I used to specialise in the field of Mucosal Immunology in gastrointestinal system, which is part of the oral cavity. After a few years, I started to work on immunology of periodontal disease. From this aspect, I used to study on the macrophage, nitric oxide, and particular cytokines which are related to periodontal disease. Bone biology is the same as oral biology. Nowadays, we talk about infectious disease and oncology. This speciality is very much associated with our immune system. Hence, if we enhance the knowledge on how the immune system works, the status of oral health and treatment may be improved in the future.

What are your future plans after your retirement?

Actually, I haven’t thought about my retirement yet because I am the kind of person who thinks day-by-day instead of planning out my life 10-years down the line. My concept is I am going to work until I can no longer do so.  I prefer teaching rather than being a clinician as I am passionate about teaching and doing research whenever there is an opportunity for me.

What are your future predictions of the dental healthcare profession in Malaysia?

Actually, Dental School is very much advanced in Malaysia, but the facility issue is the only problem we are facing right now. Secondly, we are facing so much new diseases and health disorders hence new discovery of medicine and treatment are needed. This is because the lifespan of people is increasing nowadays, and the quality of oral health of this community is to be taken into consideration. For example, old people normally possess the problem of TMJ, edentulousness ad etc. Therefore,  I would strongly suggest the dentist to study Gerodontology. Gerodontology is a specialty of oral health in aging people. In the next 10 years, gerodontology will definitely become a hot-selling cake among the specialties in dental school.