On April 25, 2011, Dean Christian S. Stohler, D.M.D., DrMedDent, and the University of Maryland Dental School (UMDS) 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.
The NIDCR funds over 30 studies involving practice-based dental research and is the largest public funder of oral health research. Last year, the NIDCR awarded more than $400 million for oral health care innovation.
The acting director of the NIDCR, Isabel Garcia, D.D.S., M.P.H., stressed that “research makes significant and meaningful contributions to better health.” She emphasized the importance of affecting behavior change to get people healthier and discussed how research and technology impact patients by helping providers to better identify the cause of problems. Dr. Garcia noted that the University of Maryland Dental School is a “fabulous example of a dental institution that draws strength by spanning many areas of research.”
Dr. Stohler introduced UMDS faculty members Huakun Xu, Ph.D.; Ron Dubner, D.D.S., Ph.D.; and Mary-Ann Rizk, Ph.D. to discuss 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 emphasized the benefits of research and was moderated by Dushanka Kleinman, D.D.S., M.Sc.D., associate dean for research and academic affairs in the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland, College Park. The panel also included Isabel Garcia; R. Bruce Donoff, D.M.D., M.D., Dean of Harvard School of Dental Medicine and President of the FNIDCR; Leonard Cohen, D.D.S., M.P.H., professor in the division of health services research; Mark Macek, D.D.S., Dr.P.H., associate professor in the division of health services research; Richard Manski, D.D.S., M.B.A., Ph.D., professor and director of health services research; Norman Tinanoff, D.D.S., M.S., chairman of the department of health promotion and policy; and Clemencia Vargas, D.D.S., Ph.D., associate professor in the department of health promotion and policy.
For more information and to watch a video of the forum, visit The University of Maryland Dental School website.