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UMDS Hosts FNIDCR Town Hall Meeting

Written by Adam Zewe

On April 25, Dean Christian S. Stohler, DMD, DrMedDent, and the University of Maryland Dental School hosted the first in a series of proposed nationwide town hall meetings on behalf of the Friends of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (FNIDCR). Two hundred people attended the forum entitled "Bringing Oral Health Research Home."

University President Jay A. Perman, MD, commended the exceptional research projects conducted at the dental school. "I'm proud to say that this dental school is ranked seventh among all dental schools in terms of total NIH (National Institutes of Health) support," Perman remarks.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) awarded more than $400 million last year to encourage oral health care innovation. "Research makes significant and meaningful contributions to better health," explains Isabel Garcia, DDS, MPH, acting director of the NIDCR. The organization funds more than 30 studies involving practice-based dental research, which discovers answers to pivotal questions posed by oral health practitioners. NIDCR-funded research also uncovers more effective treatments, like new oral cancer screening regimens.

UMDS faculty members Huakun Xu, PhD, Ron Dubner, DDS, PhD, and Mary-Ann Rizk, PhD, explained how their research enhances patient care. For example, Dr. Xu studies stem cells and how they can be used to rebuild bone. Seven million people suffer bone fractures annually, so Dr. Xu's research directly improves the quality of life for many patients.

A panel discussion, moderated by Dushanka Kleinman, DDS, MScD, associate dean for research and academic affairs in the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland, College Park, highlighted the benefits of research in the elimination of health disparities. This prestigious panel included: Isabel Garcia; R. Bruce Donoff, DMD, MD, dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and president of the FNIDCR; Leonard Cohen, DDS, MPH, professor in the division of health services research; Mark Macek, DDS, DrPH, associate professor in the division of health services research; Richard Manski, DDS, MBA, PhD, professor and director of health services research; Norman Tinanoff, DDS, MS, chairman of the department of health promotion and policy; and Clemencia Vargas, DDS, PhD, associate professor in the department of health promotion and policy.

A UMDS study of adults in Baltimore found that only 34 percent knew that smoking could lead to oral disease. "It is important to realize that it takes a team to answer these really vexing problems of health disparities," concludes Garcia.

Click here to watch a video of the forum.

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