A chat with Ronald Jung
In 2022 you took the reins as the University of Zurich’s new Chairman at the Clinic of Reconstructive Dentistry. Did you always want to be a dentist?
Prof. Jung: Not before my early 20s. As a young man I was a professional and passionate soccer player with Grasshopper Club Zurich until I had a serious injury in a match. I underwent surgery five times. In the end, doctors couldn’t fully rebuild my fibula, but I became very interested in orthopedic surgery and bone biology. I started to study medicine, and when I met a pioneer of bone and soft-tissue regeneration in Switzerland, Dr. Hans-Peter Grimm, he convinced me to study dentistry. Geistlich was partly responsible for my becoming a dentist.
Is your favorite topic clinical practice or fundamental research?
I am more the conductor who puts together the “best possible team” for doing “what should be done,” whether it is fundamental or practical. We do it all for one simple reason: to provide better oral healthcare to people worldwide. This keeps me getting up every morning with so much positive energy, and I look forward to going to work.
Individual, or teamwork?
Team, people and trust come first. It is important for me that my team members love going to work. After that, the performance comes by itself. I learned this in sports. For example, all championship level skiers are in pretty much the same physical condition. What delivers the best performance is always in the mind.
What’s the most important take-home when working with Prof. Hämmerle?
Fundamentally, great dentistry is not about knowing the most advanced techniques or having the most skilled hands, it’s about being able to make the right decisions at the right time.
Has oral regeneration research changed over the years?
There is a transition from hard- and soft- tissue dominated topics to interface science. Thanks to advances in imaging and modeling tools, we can better understand the mechanisms at the interface of bone, soft tissue and implants, even at the cellular and molecular level, which was not possible 20-years ago.
Has the pandemic impacted your daily work?
I used to travel a lot for work and meetings. Every time I had to sit in the airplane, my teenage daughter complained about my carbon footprint (smiles) – but now my travel is significantly less. Most lectures and training changed to an online format. I see a lot of potential. A hands-on like vLab (at Geistlich + YOU) can reach more dentists worldwide than we ever imagined.
What is special about today’s students?
They have a better sense of work-life balance. 20-years ago not everyone knew what the burnout is. I remember my father working all the time, either in his office or in the garden when he was home. And I am pretty much the same. You never find me sitting relaxed and reading a newspaper at home. But young people today know how to dedicate their resources in a more thoughtful way.
What do you miss the most when you go abroad for work?
I love to travel and learn about people, food, cultures, etc. I adapt to different situations easily – I do not have a rhythm or a morning routine, so jetlag does not bother me. But I must say, I miss my family!
Prof. Ronald Jung is Chairman of the Clinic of Reconstructive Dentistry, University of Zürich and best known for his work in the field of hard and soft tissue management and his research on new technologies in implant dentistry.