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MERIT: The Missouri Emergency Response Identification Team

Thank you to ​for attending the annual meeting March 24, 2108.

The Missouri Emergency Response Identification Team (MERIT) is a statewide forensic dental team. It was born out of the "Great Flood of 1993," during which a small-town Missouri cemetery was washed away and required that scores of bodies be identified for re-interment. A cadre of forensic dentists was called in to perform forensic identification, mostly from outside the state. To provide a local resource for such disasters in the future, a state dental forensic team was formed.

Each year MERIT team members meet for a continuing education and an annual meeting. You are not required to be a member of the MERIT team to attend the CE course. The program is open to dentists, auxiliaries, students or anyone interested in learning about the MERIT program.

Speakers and Courses

Dr. Michael McCunniffMichael McCunniff DDS, MS is Department Chair Dental Public Health and Behavioral Science and Director of Outreach programs at University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. Dr. McCunniff earned his DDS degree from UMKC in 1983, specialty degree in Dental Public Health from the University Of Iowa, College Of Dentistry in 1995 and became Board Certified in Dental Public Health in 2003. He began teaching full-time in 1991 following 8 years of private practice and part-time clinical faculty.

Research interests include access to oral health care among underserved populations and dental education. Access to care topics have included evaluation of state Medicaid programs, obesity in children, oral and pharyngeal cancer, dental workforce, and Emergency Room visits related to oral health issues. Dental education topics have included community-based service learning, development of extra-mural training programs, and Inter-professional Education (IPE).

Dr. McCunniff is an active member of the following organizations: Missouri Rural Health Association, the National Disaster Medical System, the American Association of Public Health Dentistry, American Dental Education Association and the American Dental Association.​
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Dr. Diane PetersonDr. Diane Peterson graduated with her B. S. majoring in Microbiology from Kansas State University in 2000. She went on to receive her doctorate from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 2005. From 2005 - 2009, she completed her anatomic and clinical pathology residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and went on to complete a 1-year forensic pathology fellowship in 2009.

In 2010 Dr. Peterson moved to Kansas City, Missouri to accept a position with the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office as a Deputy Medical Examiner. Dr. Peterson has joined several committees and professional organizations in addition to her positions at the medical universities including Clinical Assistant Professor for the Department of Pathology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. In 2011 she added Clinical Assistant Professor for the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine to her resume. From 2012—2013, Dr. Peterson performed as the Adjunct Instructor in the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy.

Her professional affiliations include the College of American Pathologists Fellow (CAP), American Society for Clinical Pathology Fellow (ASCP), Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists, Associate of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), and Fellow of the National Association of Medical Examiners (NAME) Fellow.

She also serves on several committees including the Child Fatality Review Panel for Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte Counties in Missouri, AAFS Pathology/Biology Section Best Resident Paper Award Committee, and several NAME Committees including: NAME Scientific Presentations Awards Committee, NAM
  • Topics in Forensic Pathology


If you have questions about this meeting please contact Mandy Lewis or call 573-634-3436.

cerpADA CERP Approved

The Missouri Dental Association is an ADA CERP Recognized Provider. ADA CERP is a service of the American Dental Association to assist dental professionals in identifying quality providers of continuing dental education. ADA CERP does not approve or endorse individual courses or instructors, nor does it imply acceptance of credit hours by boards of dentistry. Concerns or complaints about a CE provider may be directed to the provider or to ADA CERP at