The University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry has been named the lead institution in a consortium of dental schools to receive $5.3 million from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
The K12 Institutional Career Development Award has been given to the Western Oral Research Consortium (WEORC), which includes the UCSF School of Dentistry, the University of Washington, University of the Pacific, University of Colorado Health Sciences Campus and the Oregon Health Science University.
John S. Greenspan, BDS, PhD, Director of WEORC and Dean for Research at the UCSF School of Dentistry, said that the funds will offer a unique and innovative approach to the development of investigators and faculty members devoted to oral health research.
“The K12/WEORC Program supports new and recent DDS/PhDs and similar up-and-coming scientists for up to five years of mentored postdoctoral and junior faculty development,” Greenspan said. “Academic dentistry, not unlike other health sciences,” Greenspan explained, “is on the brink of a serious problem with approximately 500 currently open faculty positions in dental schools, and projected to reach 2,000 within the next few years.
The very future of dental education depends on the identification and development of the next generation of teachers and investigators.”
## The five-year, $5.3 million award is in two phases:
* 1. In the Scholar Development phase, the grant supports outstanding new clinician scientists with clinically relevant PhD degrees to obtain additional mentored postdoctoral research experience; and
* 2. The Faculty Transition phase is next, after the individual is appointed to a tenure track or equivalent position, followed by funding for an independent research project.
The K12/WEORC Program is part of a broader initiative within the five-school Western Oral Research Consortium’s work, including the identification of dental-school- bound college applicants with an interest in teaching and research; the support of students in dental school who are interested in experiencing a research environment; and a range of post-DDS degree and non-degree training programs for such future academics.
## Co-Directors of the program are:
* Timothy A. DeRouen, PhD, University of Washington;
* David Chambers, PhD, University of the Pacific;
* Thomas R. Shearer, PhD, Oregon Health and Sciences University; and
* David O. Quissell, PhD, University of Colorado Health Sciences Campus.
The institutions involved represent a new Western U.S. regional consortium that includes both research-intensive, public and state supported dental schools.
Co-Director DeRouen said, “This regional consortium is an important first step in recognizing how to solve the faculty shortage problem in U.S. dental schools, requiring cooperation and collaboration among institutions. We look forward to working with our colleagues to address this critical issue of mutual concern.”
Charles Bertolami, DDS, DMedSc, Dean of the UCSF School of Dentistry, added: “We see the Western Oral Research Consortium as a great opportunity not only for these five dental schools, but for all of dental education. The new resources this grant provides will make possible a transformational change in the dental profession by attracting a new cohort of talented young people into academic careers and also offering these faculty members the kind of solid foundation they need to be successful in an academic environment over the long term.”
The first two trainees to be supported by the program are Brian Schmidt, DDS, MD, PhD, at UCSF and Greg Huang, DMD, MSD, at the University of Washington.