The dental network

The dental network

UF part of $67 million grant aiming to boost dental research

By Karen Rhodenizer

UF was one of seven institutions jointly awarded a $67 million, seven-year grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The grant, which will fund a national dental research network, is the largest single award of its kind and will help involve a wider cross section of communities in dental research.

The new National Dental Practice-Based Research Network will conduct national oral health studies on topics of importance to dental providers and patients. The research efforts will yield evidence needed to guide improvement of dental practice and speed those advances to patients.

“The network creates a way for individual dental offices, including those in rural areas, to participate in research studies,” said UF principal investigator Valeria Gordan, D.D.S., M.S. “That greatly broadens the diversity of research subjects and the data collected in studies.”

The network brings together three regional networks established in 2005, strengthening collaboration among clinicians and academic dentists around the country. Dentists can propose and participate in research studies addressing oral health care. Previous studies have covered topics such as preventive and restorative dentistry, pain management and smoking cessation.

UF will oversee administration for dentists in the South Atlantic region, which comprises Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

Headquartered at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and directed by Gregg Gilbert, D.D.S., M.B.A., the new network also includes research sites at Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore.; HealthPartners Research Foundation in Minneapolis; the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio; the University of Rochester Eastman Dental Center in Rochester, N.Y.; and Westat Corporation in Rockville, Md.

The network will make it possible for dental practitioners and patients from both urban and rural areas to participate in research studies. The inclusion of hundreds of dentists working in solo, group or public health settings, as well as thousands of patients of varied socioeconomic circumstances will potentially give study results wider application and impact.

“This is an exciting time with a unique opportunity for the practitioners to answer clinical research questions and study everyday issues in the delivery of oral health care,” said Gordan, the network’s director of practitioner training and education. “It is also a special time for the researchers to understand and become part of the daily activities of practitioners working in
the field.”