Bulletin of Dental Education

Around the Dental Education Community - June 2011

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  Connecticut Governor Calls for Expansion of Dental School 

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy during a news conference announcing the new Bioscience Connecticut initiative.A proposed 30% enrollment increase for the University of Connecticut Health Center’s (UCHC) medical and dental schools (48 dental students) and a loan forgiveness program to attract more graduates to practice primary care medicine and dentistry in Connecticut are included in the $864 million “Bioscience Connecticut” economic revitalization initiative from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. Bioscience Connecticut pushes for the state to become a leader in bioscience industry and increase access to care.

The University of Connecticut (UConn) is the largest provider in the state of dental care to the underserved and emergency dental services to adult Medicaid clients. Approximately 50% of practicing dentists in Connecticut are UConn School of Dental Medicine-affiliated.

Among the plan’s proposals are construction of a new patient tower and new ambulatory care facility and renovations to existing research facilities.

 University of Pittsburgh Research Addresses Dental Informatics Solutions 

The Center for Dental Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine has received $190,000 in federal funding for an exploratory research project titled Implementing Research Findings and Evidence-based Interventions into Real-World Dental Practice Settings.

With the award, the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) will support research that examines the integration of evidence-based (EB) interventions among practicing dentists. Dr. Heiko Spallek, principal investigator of the project, Associate Professor in the Center for Dental Informatics, and Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Information Management, expects that findings from this project will allow for more efficient delivery of information about treatment guidelines for dentists. The project will facilitate the translation of research findings into clinical practice to improve patient outcomes, a longstanding goal of the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Dr. Jean A. O’Donnell, the lead co-investigator on the project who started her career as a nurse and is now Assistant Dean for Education and Curriculum at the School of Dental Medicine, says, “Currently, dentistry lags behind medicine with respect to promotion of research findings and EB knowledge in clinical settings. During the next two years we will try to redress the disparity by developing informatics solutions for a more efficient delivery of current information to general dentists.”

The University of Pittsburgh research team will first try to understand barriers that make it difficult for practicing dentists to implement new findings and guidelines into their everyday practice. The team will then develop prototypical informatics solutions with the help of various experts and consultants, among them Dr. Julie Frantsye-Hawley, Director of the Research Institute and Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry at the American Dental Association (ADA). Finally, the researchers will deploy these solutions with a limited number of dentists in the Pittsburgh region.

The results from this research will help the research team determine which of these prototype solutions are feasible and prepare them for a planned follow-up study, during which they will compare the effectiveness of various implementations in dental practice across the country. This project will contribute to the development of next-generation electronic dental record systems for dentists. These new systems are expected to leverage technology to overcome perceived and real barriers to the acceptance of EB dental practice guidelines.

 Pennsylvania Dental School Continuing to Strengthen Ties with China 

Continuing to strengthen the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine’s academic ties with China, Dr. Denis F. Kinane, Morton Amsterdam Dean, recently signed a renewed memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Sichuan University West China College of Stomatology, located in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province of southwest China. The agreement will continue to facilitate the exchange of students, faculty, and learning resources and foster collaborative research between the two institutions.

Dr. Kinane renewed the MOU when in Chengdu as part of the International Symposium of Microbial Biofilms, held April 6 and 7, 2011, and organized chiefly by the West China College of Stomatology. The symposium focused on the latest discoveries in microbial biofilm research. Dean Kinane, who spoke on biofilms in dental disease, was among 30 scientists invited from throughout the world to present their current studies and share their latest findings and future perspectives of microbial biofilms research.

“The symposium was a great opportunity for academic exchange and communication and enabled everyone in attendance to gain a better understanding of the current status of microbial biofilms research in China,” says Dean Kinane. “And with our renewed memorandum of understanding with West China College of Stomatology, we can continue to build even greater cooperation between our academic institutions.”

The MOU with Sichuan University West China College of Stomatology is one of three that the School of Dental Medicine has with schools in China. The others are with The Fourth Military Medical University College of Stomatology and Peking University School of Stomatology, the latter of which was signed in March 2010 when the School of Dental Medicine joined a delegation led by University of Pennsylvania President Dr. Amy Gutmann to Beijing, initiating and reaffirming the University of Pennsylvania’s academic partnerships and agreements with universities there.

 University of Maryland Praised for Bringing Oral Health Research Home 

On April 25, 2011, the University of Maryland Baltimore College of Dental Surgery hosted a town hall meeting on behalf of the Friends of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (FNIDCR). The forum was entitled “Bringing Oral Health Research Home” and was the first in a series of proposed nationwide town hall meetings.

Dean Christian S. Stohler introduced Maryland faculty members Dr. Huakun Xu, Dr. Ron Dubner, and Dr. Mary-Ann Rizk, who discussed their research projects and how the findings improve clinical care. Dr. Xu explained that his research on the use of stem cells to rebuild bone benefits patients who suffer from bone fractures. Dr. Dubner addressed new findings on persistent head and jaw pain and Dr. Rizk discussed microbial “biofilms” in the oral cavity. All three faculty scientists stressed the importance of research in discovering new ways to reduce health disparities. 

A panel discussion on the benefits of research was moderated by Dr. Dushanka Kleinman, Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs in the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland, College Park. The panel also included Dr. Isabel Garcia, Acting Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR); Dr. R. Bruce Donoff, Dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and President of the FNIDCR; Dr. Leonard Cohen, Professor in the Division of Health Services Research; Dr. Mark Macek, Associate Professor in the Division of Health Services Research; Dr. Richard Manski, Professor and Director of Health Services Research; Dr. Norman Tinanoff, Chairman of the Department of Health Promotion and Policy; and Dr. Clemencia Vargas, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Policy.

To watch a video of the forum, visit The University of Maryland Dental School website

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