Dr. Graff-Radford’s contributions to UCLA and the dental field are profound. He came to UCLA in 1978 as a young dental school graduate from South Africa. He had been accepted to UCLA’s Oral Surgery Residency program and was exploring educational opportunities in the dental school prior to beginning his program.
He began studying temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and was interested in the way chronic pain was being treated at the UCLA Department of Anesthesia Pain Management Center. In 1982, Dr. Graff-Radford was offered a fellowship in pain management, which became his life’s focus. After completing the program, he began teaching and treating patients at the center and eventually became the education director.
In 1990, he approached the dental school administrators with a proposal to create an orofacial pain residency program. The program became the first residency program in orofacial pain in the world and became a model for similar programs. His program was so impactful that it became the example that the American Board of Orofacial Pain adopted for their board exam.
He later became the director of the Headache, Orofacial Pain and Sleep Apnea Program at the Cedars-Sinai Pain Center and held an appointment as a clinical professor at the USC School of Dentistry. Dr. Graff-Radford had a distinguished academic career, receiving numerous grants and publishing in excess of 150 papers, chapters and abstracts.
Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Graff-Radford was the first dentist to become a board member for the American Headache Society. He became world-renowned in the headache community, and he helped to change the perception of dentistry in the medical community as it relates TMD.
The Steven B. Graff-Radford Orofacial Pain and Headache Lectureship is awarded in recognition of prominent status and contributions to the field of orofacial pain and headache research. Prior to his death, Dr. Graff-Radford personally named Dr. Barry Sessle, BDS, BSC, MDS, PhD, DSC as the inaugural recipient of this prestigious award. Dr. Sessle presented his lecture during the 2017 Scottsdale Headache Symposium with the topic What have the Past 40 Years of Research into Craniofacial Pain Mechanisms Told Us about Craniofacial Pain States and Their Management?