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The John Greene Society was founded in 2002, taking its name from Dr. John C. Greene, Dean Emeritus at UCSF, whose leadership was instrumental in the dental school's rise to prominence as a premier research institution, and who was much beloved by students and faculty alike. A major goal at the time was to encourage active student participation in meaningful research, bringing student research into harmony with the quality investigations being conducted by the UCSF dental faculty.

Since that time, the John Greene Society has shown tremendous growth as an organization. Enrollment in the JGS has increased in each year of its existence, now standing at nearly one third of the pre-doctoral student body at the School of Dentistry. The JGS is one of the most recognizable, vocal, and respected student groups on campus. Student research participation at UCSF is at an all-time high, with dozens of students conducting semester-long fellowships each year, and many more traveling to present their findings at conferences across California, the country and the world.

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