UAB School of Dentistry awarded $22.4M to continue national research leadership efforts

UAB School of Dentistry awarded $22.4M to continue national research leadership efforts
UAB dental students examine a patient in an examination room in the School of Dentistry. (Savannah Koplon/UAB)
UAB will continue to lead the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network. (Savannah Koplon/UAB)

The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry has been awarded a seven-year, $22.4 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the National Institutes of Health, to continue a national dental practice-based research network designed to improve the nation’s oral health.

Since 2012, UAB has served as the National Administrative and Resource Center by NIDCR, leading the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network. The network is a consortium of participating practices and dental organizations committed to advancing knowledge of dental practice and “practical science,” advancing ways to improve it, and further benefiting real-world, everyday clinical practice.

In this role, UAB leads and oversees six smaller regional research centers in Birmingham; Rochester, New York; Gainesville, Florida; Minneapolis; San Antonio; and Portland, Oregon.

“The dental practice-based research network is a unique investigative union of real-world practicing clinicians and academic clinical scientists that aims to improve the nation’s oral health by expanding the knowledge base for clinical decision-making and moving the latest evidence into routine care,” said Gregg Gilbert, DDS, MBA, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Clinical and Community Sciences, grant principal investigator and national network director. “The network is a precious national resource for our profession and our patients, and we are fortunate that NIDCR has invested in the future of our profession.”

Gilbert said an important aspect of this network is the participation of community practitioners at every step of the process, including serving as authors in peer-reviewed journals and as presenters at national meetings. Furthermore, the network presents a different paradigm for conducting clinical research by making a point of tapping into the practical clinical wisdom that exists in the dental community at large.

“We are thrilled that UAB’s School of Dentistry has been selected to lead this important national research effort,” said Michelle Robinson, DMD, M.A., interim dean of the School of Dentistry. “This network gives the everyday clinician a key voice in the science behind patient care. Including this most-recent grant, Dr. Gilbert’s network has brought more than $117 million in NIH funding to UAB since 2005.”

In addition to Gilbert, Sonia Makhija, DDS, MPH, associate professor in the Department of Clinical and Community Sciences, will serve as the national director of Communications & Dissemination, ensuring that research information reaches practices and is implemented.

This story originally appeared on the UAB News website.

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