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Director's Report to Council: September 2003


Since the last Council meeting, NIDCR Director Lawrence Tabak has met with Congressional staff, delivered presentations to dental schools, dental professional organizations, industry, patient groups, tribal leaders, and students about future directions in dental, oral, and craniofacial research, and continued to play an active role on NIH committees.

On August 27, the NIDCR Director briefed Senator Tom Harkin's staff (D-Iowa) about the NIH's temporomandibular muscle and joint disorders research activities. Dr. Tabak, who was accompanied by Ms. Wendy Liffers, director of the NIDCR Office of Science Policy and Analysis, met with Mr. Erik Fatemi, Minority Professional Staff, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education. Mr. Leopold Luberecki from the DHHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Legislation, and Ms. Anne Houser from the NIH Office of Legislative Policy and Analysis , also attended the meeting.

In July, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni appointed Dr. Tabak to a new central steering committee that will handle governance issues at NIH. The 10-member steering committee will focus on NIH-wide policies and operational decisions. Dr. Tabak also continues to co-chair the NIH Roadmap Committee on Interdisciplinary Research Teams of the Future and recently served as co-chair for the NIH Search Committee for the Deputy Director for Extramural Research.

Over the summer, Dr. Tabak spoke at the Albuquerque Area Tribal Leaders Health Summit, the Children's Craniofacial Association Forum on Craniofacial Care, Treatment and Insurance Coverage, and Colgate-Palmolive. He addressed the National Student Leadership Foundation Conference held at the University of Maryland and gave a talk on “The Post-Genomic Era Enters the Mouth” at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston 2003 Research Day. He also chaired a symposium at the 50 th Anniversary Symposium of the European Organization for Caries Research (ORCA) where he discussed “The Role of Saliva”. Later in September he will give a presentation at the FDI World Dental Congress in Sydney, Australia on “Saliva as the Diagnostic Fluid of Choice.”


NIDCR Deputy Director Dushanka Kleinman continues to work closely with the NIDCR training, career development, dental school infrastructure and outreach program directors in the development of new initiatives and program evaluation plans. She serves on several NIH-wide committees addressing administrative restructuring and biodefense research activities, and on the private-public partnerships work group of the NIH Roadmap initiative. She also is working with the NIH Deputy Director to develop ways to coordinate NIH interactions with the National Center for Health Statistics.

Since the last Council meeting, Dr. Kleinman has made presentations on women's oral health at a session sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA) and the Society for Women's Health Research in cooperation with the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, and also spoke at the annual meetings of the National Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry. She presented the keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health and spoke at the Eighth Annual Conference on the European Association of Dental Public Health (EADPH) in Finland.

In her role as Chief Dental Officer, USPHS, Dr. Kleinman oversaw the dental programs and general sessions of the annual meeting of the Commissioned Officers Association. She was selected to chair the Chief Professional Officers Board for the coming year. This board provides advice to the Surgeon General and to the Professional Advisory Committees of the USPHS Corps.

To facilitate interactions among Federal programs and to provide him with updates on collaborations, Dr. Zerhouni recently appointed NIH liaisons for several agency partnerships. Dr. Kleinman was appointed to coordinate the collaborations between NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Ruth Kirschstein (Office of the Director) serves as the NIH liaison to the Indian Health Service; Dr. Donna Dean (Deputy Director, NIBIB) is the NIH liaison to the National Institute of Standards and Technology; and Dr. Richard Wyatt (Office of the Director) is the NIH liaison to the Office of the Surgeon General.


FY 2003

NIDCR's final appropriation for FY 2003 is $371.6 million.

Research project grant (RPG) funding is estimated at $216.5 million in support of 631 awards. An estimated $21 million will support 12 center awards. In addition, 104 Research Career Development Award (RCDA) positions and 273 full-time training positions will be funded.

FY 2004
President's Budget

The FY 2004 President's budget request for NIDCR is $382.4 million, including AIDS, which is an increase of $10.8 million—or 2.9 percent—over the FY 2003 appropriation of $371.6 million ( see attachment 1). The FY 2004 President's budget request for the NIH is $27.3 billion, including AIDS, an increase of $3.7 billion—or 15.7 percent—over the FY 2003 estimate.

The FY 2004 request provides funding for an estimated 151 competing RPGs and 470 non-competing RPGS, a total of 621 awards. The request also includes funding for 12 research centers, including support for recompetition of the current P60 centers program.

The FY 2004 request for funding to support 94 Research Career Awards was constructed on an earlier FY 2003 estimate of 94 Research Career Awards, since revised to reflect 104 awards. In the FY 2004 request, NIDCR will support 273 pre- and postdoctoral trainees in full-time training positions. See the Congressional Justification narrative

House and Senate Action

Both the House and the Senate completed action on the President's Budget Request. For NIDCR, the House agreed with the amount requested--$382.4 million. The Senate added $4 million, virtually all of which would be used to support activities within other Departmental agencies.

See the NIDCR Director's Statement for the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee.


National Oral Health Call to Action

A National Call to Action to Promote Oral Health is the result of a public-private partnership under the leadership of the Office of the Surgeon General. The Call to Action outlines five categories that include actions to: change perceptions of oral health; overcome barriers by replicating effective programs and proven efforts; build the science base and accelerate science transfer; increase oral health workforce diversity, capacity, and flexibility; and increase collaborations. Through the Oral Health Coordinating Committee, a Federal level plan is being developed in response to the Call to Action.

Public Health Service Commissioned Corps May Increase in Size

The Public Health Service Commissioned Corps could increase its ranks by more than 1,000 officers per year under a new DHHS plan aimed at making the PHS a more substantial resource in combating workforce shortages and public health emergencies. In addition to launching the recruitment campaign in the coming months, the Commissioned Corps would undergo a restructuring of its readiness force plan with the goal of making the group 100 percent deployable for any health situation by the end of 2005. HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson described the overhaul of the nearly 6,000-member Commissioned Corps as the most significant change to the program in its 115 years and a necessary response to emerging public health threats. See the HHS Secretary's speech

Dr. Cristina Beato Nominated to be Assistant Secretary for Health
President Bush has nominated Dr. Cristina Beato, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, to serve as Assistant Secretary for Health. Once she is confirmed, she will serve as Secretary Tommy Thompson's primary advisor on all matters related to the nation's health. Surgeon General Richard Carmona had been serving as Acting Assistant Secretary for Health since last February.

National Research Council/Institute of Medicine Releases Report on Needed NIH Organizational Changes

Despite the undeniable success of the NIH as the world's largest supporter of biomedical research and training, important organizational changes are needed for the agency to meet future challenges effectively, according to a report issued by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine of the National Academies following their 15-month study of the NIH. In particular, changes are required to allow NIH to devote additional resources to innovative interdisciplinary research that reflects strategic objectives and cuts across all of the agency's institutes and centers. The report also stated that greater resources, authority and flexibility should be given to the NIH Director. Among the other recommendations made by the committee were:

•  Congress should establish a formal process to review and act on specific proposals for changes in the number of NIH institutes and centers.

•  NIH-sponsored clinical research –whether it takes place at NIH facilities or at outside hospitals—should be consolidated under a new entity called the National Center for Clinical Research and Research Resources, which would build upon the current National Center for Research Resources.

•  Congress should ask the NIH Director to develop major crosscutting, or “trans-NIH,” research initiatives through periodic NIH-wide strategic planning.  A prepublication version of the report, “Enhancing the Vitality of the National Institutes of Health: Organizational Change to Meet New Challenges,” is available for online reading from the National Academies Press. 

Dr. Jeremy Berg Appointed Director of NIGMS

On August 27, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni announced the appointment of Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., as the new Director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). Dr. Berg is currently Director of the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences and professor and Director of the Department of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. Dr. Berg will begin his NIGMS appointment in early November.

Dr. Story Landis Selected as New NINDS Director
Story Landis, Ph.D., became Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) on September 1. Previously she had been scientific director of the NINDS intramural program since 1995. Dr. Landis is recognized for her research on the development of the nervous system and for encouraging close ties among the NIH neuroscience community.

Dr. Claude Lenfant, NHLBI Director, Retires

Claude Lenfant, Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), retired on August 30. He was the longest-serving director of the NHLBI, having assumed the position in 1982. Under his stewardship, NHLBI launched its National Cholesterol Education Program, National Asthma Education and Prevention Program, and National Heart Attack Alert Program, as well as Programs of Excellence in Molecular Biology, Programs of Genomic Application, and the Proteomics Initiative. Dr. Barbara Alving, NHLBI Deputy Director, will serve as NHLBI Acting Director until a new director is appointed.

NIEHS Director to Step Down

Dr. Kenneth Olden, Director of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), has announced his intention to step down from both posts. He will remain in the positions until a replacement can be found. Dr. Olden has been NTP/NIEHS director for 12 years.

Center for Scientific Review Director to Step Down

Dr. Ellie Ehrenfeld, Director of the NIH Center for Scientific Review, will step down from the position at the end of September. She will continue, however, as chief of the Picornavirus Replication Section of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Dr. Ehrenfeld had been CSR Director since 1997. During her tenure, she presided over a dramatic increase in the number or research grant applications received by NIH—from 38,579 when she first began, to an estimated 66,000 in FY 2003.

NIDCR Convenes Expert Panel on Pain Research

Over the past year, NIDCR has convened panels of experts to help identify long-range research opportunities in a number of science areas central to its mission. As part of this initiative, the Institute convened a Panel on Pain Research on May 13.


Key Discovery in Organ Development

Within weeks of fertilization, the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs begin to appear in a fetus. Many start out as a tube-shaped sheet of cells, which then bud and branch anew hundreds to millions of times before reaching their final three-dimensional shape. Although scientists have identified many proteins that are present as organs develop, they know little about how these molecules interact to catalyze the process, information that is vital in learning one day to efficiently engineer replacement organs. A team of NIDCR scientists recently made a critical discovery that helps to explain in part how the process works. Reporting in the June 19 issue of Nature , the scientists found that cells in certain areas of the bud secrete the protein fibronectin, which helps to create a deep indentation, or cleft, in the bud. These clefts serve to subdivide the single bud into several smaller buds, freeing them to branch in different directions and form increasingly more intricate, preprogrammed three-dimensional patterns. Intriguingly, the scientists found they could double the rate of branching when they added fibronectin to organ cultures depleted of the protein. This finding suggests a specific biological mechanism that bioengineers can exploit in future studies to spur the natural growth of many developing organs. Drs. Takayoshi Sakai, Melinda Larsen, and Kenneth Yamada of the NIDCR Craniofacial Developmental Biology and Regeneration Branch conducted the research.

Important Lead in Studying Possible Association Between Periodontal and Cardiovascular Disease
Scientists have hypothesized that people with chronic periodontal disease may be predisposed to heart disease and stroke. However, supporting this hypothesis has been difficult, in part because researchers have yet to identify a molecule or some other telltale biological marker that is somehow linked to these conditions. Now, a team of NIDCR-supported scientists reports that it may have found a possible marker. The researchers found in a large, racially mixed group of adults that the more teeth a person has lost, the more likely he or she is to have both advanced periodontal infections and potentially clogging plaques in the carotid artery, the vessel that feeds the brain. The paper builds on the broader idea that disease-causing bacteria shed from periodontal infections enter the circulatory system, and contribute to disease in other parts of the body, such as the heart or brain. The more chronic and severe a person's periodontal infections are, the thinking goes, the greater the risk for secondary infections. The study, titled "Relationship between periodontal disease, tooth loss, and carotid artery plaque," was published online in the journal Stroke on July 31. The authors are: Moise Desvarieux, Ryan T. Demmer, Tatjana Rundek, Bernadette Boden-Albala, David R. Jacobs, Panos Papapanou, and Ralph L. Sacco from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery, and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Scientists Create Mouse Model that Mimics Human Dental Disorder

A team led by scientists at the NIDCR has created a mouse model with tooth defects similar to those of people with dentinogenesis imperfecta III. The model will allow scientists to learn more about how the hereditary disorder arises and provides a tool for developing and testing treatments. The mouse model was created by deleting or ‘knocking out' the dentin sialophosphoprotein (DSPP) gene, thought to be responsible for coordinating the mineralization of a tooth's dentin. The researchers reported their findings in the July 4 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The team included Drs. Ashok Kulkarni, Taduru Sreenath, Tamizchelvi Thyagarajan, Bradford Hall, and Glenn Longenecker from the NIDCR; Rena D'Souza from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston; Sung Hong and J. Tim Wright from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Mary MacDougall, from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio; and John Sauk from the University of Maryland at Baltimore.

Gender Bias in Observation of Experimental Pain
Data from a series of studies suggest that gender factors play a significant role in the report of pain experienced. Moreover, these gender role differences extend beyond personal self-ratings of pain characteristics and observed responses to experimentally induced pain, to differential judgments made by men and women observing pain in others. Results from a series of studies suggest that men and women rate common painful events differently in a systemic fashion. Females tend to rate pain and the distress associated with it as more severe and upsetting. However, experimental manipulations that modify gender-related expectations (instructions suggesting that “this is the type of task we've found that women can cope with better than men”) were found to substantially reduce discrepancies in ratings between women and men. The investigators also found that women anchor their pain ratings (“worst imaginable pain” with childbirth or menstrual pain, while men use various injuries for their anchor in pain ratings). Additional studies building upon these experimental studies are now being conducted with health care providers and in health care settings. The research was conducted by M.E. Robinson, E. A. Wise, C. Gognott, R. B. Fillinghim, and D.D. Price and is in press in Pain. Related papers also are in press in the Journal of Pain .

Association Between Race/Ethnicity and Early Childhood Caries in California Preschool Children
Analysis of data from the 1993-1994 California Oral Health Needs Assessment of Children conducted by researchers at the Center to Address Disparities in Children's Health at the University of California at San Francisco shows that race/ethnicity plays a role in the occurrence of early childhood caries (ECC) among California Head Start and non-Head Start preschool children. The study, involving a representative sample (2,520) of California's diverse preschool child population, uncovered several important differences between ethnic subgroups: 1) Head Start Asians and Latinos/Hispanics had the greatest prevalence of ECC (30-33 percent) and untreated caries (49-54 percent); 2) the prevalence of ECC was more than three times higher in Head Start Asians compared with Head Start whites even after adjusting for socioeconomic status; 3) water fluoridation status of the children's area of residence did not have a significant effect on ECC and may be indicative of a lack of water intake; and 4) the largest proportion of children with a history of falling to sleep sipping milk or sweet substances was among Latinos/Hispanics (72 percent among Head Start children and 65 percent among non-Head Start children) and Head Start Asians (56 percent). Findings from this study may prove essential in the development of tailored preventive strategies. The research was conducted by C. H. Shiboski, S. A. Gansky, F. Ramos-Gomez, L.Ngo, R. Isman, and H.F. Pollick and appeared in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry .


Second International Women's Leadership Conference in Dental Education Research and Service

Dr. Lois K. Cohen, associate director for international health, participated as a member of the planning committee and represented the NIDCR as a cosponsoring institution at the Second International Women's Leadership Conference in Dental Education Research and Service. The conference was held in Goteborg, Sweden, June 20-23. She presented a plenary session on “Women Leading Change: The Case for Oral Health.”

International Association for Dental Research (IADR)

During the IADR meeting in Goteborg, Sweden, June 24-28, NIDCR staff hosted:

  • A half-day symposium on Clinical Research Opportunities for Dental Researchers in the International Setting. The symposium focused on issues related to the development and conduct of clinical trials such as organizational and management issues, statistical design issues, ethical and regulatory issues, and the NIDCR's clinical trials program. Over 120 researchers from around the world attended the symposium.
  • a workshop on Ethical Issues in International Collaborative Research, the third in a series of NIDCR-sponsored workshops focusing on bioethics. The workshop featured an overview of current issues in the field of ethics, along with summaries of three case studies, and discussion of ethical issues encountered in research in developing countries.
  • Staff members also gave presentations during the meeting and maintained a booth in the exhibit hall where they disseminated information on NIDCR research priorities and funding opportunities. Dr. Alice Horowitz, DPHPS, served as organizer and moderator of an international symposium on “The Impact of Policies on Tobacco Use: An International Perspective.”

8th Annual Conference of the European Association for Dental Public Health
NIDCR staff attended the 8 th Annual Conference of the European Association for Dental Public Health, held in Jyvaskala, Finland, August 21-23. Deputy Director Dushanka Kleinman participated in a special panel entitled, “Global Oral Health Surveillance—Measures, Approaches and Uses.” Attendance at the conference also allowed for interactions with World Health Organization staff to discuss global strategies for including oral health in broader public health promotion activities.

FDI Annual World Dental Congress
NIDCR staff will participate in the FDI Annual World Dental Congress in Sydney, Australia, September 18-21. Dr. Tabak will present a scientific session entitled, “Saliva as the Diagnostic Fluid of Choice.” Dr. Lois Cohen, associate director for international health, will speak at a session of the FDI Public Health Section on “A Vision of Public Health—A Tribute to David E. Barmes” and also will participate in a meeting on Women in Dentistry. In addition, staff will be involved in meetings of several FDI committees and commissions.

Workshop on Nanobiotechnology
NIH is co-hosting a workshop on Nanobiotechnology with the National Science Foundation (NSF), October 9-11. Dr. Eleni Kousvelari, program director of the NIDCR Biotechnology and Biomaterials Program, is a member of the organizing committee. Workshop participants will examine fundamental changes that nanoscience and nanotechnology can bring to the study of life processes and will look at how these disciplines may lead to effective interventions for treating disease and promoting human health. To stimulate closer and lasting collaborations among biologists and nanotechnologists, the workshop will identify key issues and far-reaching goals that cannot be achieved without effective teamwork. Participants will be asked to prioritize recommendations for the NSF and the NIH.

Dr. Bruce Alberts to Deliver Barmes Lecture at NIH

Dr. Bruce Alberts, President of the National Academy of Sciences, will deliver the 2003 David E. Barmes Global Health Lecture on Monday, November 3 at 3:30 p.m. in the Masur Auditorium on the NIH campus. The title of his lecture is, “Spreading Science Throughout the World: How, Why and When?” The annual lecture, cosponsored by the NIDCR and the Fogarty International Center, is open to all interested members of the scientific community. Also see the videocast of the Barmes Lecture

Other meetings attended by NIDCR staff:

  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American Dental Association Education Summit
  • American Dental Association's Committee on International Programs and Development
  • American Psychological Association
  • American Society for Cell Biology Summer Meeting
  • American Society for Microbiology Summer Institute for Preparation of Careers in Microbiology
  • BECON 2003 Symposium, “Catalyzing Team Science”
  • Board of Neuroscience and Behavioral Health of the Institute of Medicine
  • Contemporary Science in Clinical Periodontics, American Academy of Periodontology
  • External Scientific Advisory Committee meeting of the University of California at San Francisco
  • Global Health Council
  • Issues and Opportunities in the Management of SBIR Programs
  • National Academies of Sciences, Institute of Medicine Forum on Food and Health
  • National Center for Research Resources Scientific Planning Forum, “Choices and Challenges: Future Directions for NCRR”
  • Neural Crest: New Perspectives on Lineage and Morphogenesis
  • Neuro-Immune Mechanisms and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • NIH Conference on Dental Informatics and Dental Research
  • NIH SBIR/STTR Conference
  • On High Throughput Biology—From Genome to Disease
  • Salk Institute Cell Cycle Meeting
  • 2nd International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis and Treatment
  • Society for Developmental Biology
  • Society for Epidemiological Research
  • Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) Investigators Workshop
  • 3rd Joint Meeting of the Society for Clinical Trials and the International Society for Clinical Biostatistics
  • 28th International Herpesvirus Workshop
  • Virginia Dental Hygienists Association

Requests for Applications (RFAs)

Since the last meeting of the NADCRC, the following RFA was issued:

International Bioethics Education and Career Development Award

Extramural Loan Repayment Program
Thirty-nine extramural loan repayment program applications were received this year. The number awarded this year (14) is twice that of last year. Eight awards were made for clinical research projects, three for pediatric research projects, and two for research involving health disparities. An additional two dentist-scientists were funded through the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR).

Summer Dental Student Awardees
Ten dental students from around the country participated in NIDCR's Summer Dental Student Award program. The Summer Dental Student Award program is part of NIDCR's Summer Research Training Program, which supported 28 students this year. Thirty-nine percent of the students were dental students; 25 percent were college students, and 36 percent were high school students. Highlights of the summer's activities included a party held at the home of the NIDCR Director, educational field trips (including to the National Academies of Science, the U.S. Capitol, the American Dental Association, and the National Dental Museum), a poster session, and career development opportunities seminars. Among the seminars that were held, the panel on Future Careers in Science and Dentistry was well received again this year.

T32 Programs
Three new comprehensive T32 programs were awarded, bringing the number of comprehensive programs to 18. The new programs are located at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Buffalo.


Requests for Applications (RFAs)

Since the last meeting of the NADCRC, the following RFA was issued:

Enhancing Research Infrastructure and Capacity Building for U.S. Dental Institutions (U24)

Fifteen planning awards for Improvement of Research Infrastructure in U.S. Dental Schools were made with start dates of August 1, 2003. Dental schools at the following institutions received the R24 awards: Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University, Medical University at South Carolina, New York University, Oregon Health and Science University, Texas A&M (Baylor College of Dentistry), Tufts University, University of Alabama, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Colorado, University of Florida, University of Illinois, University of Iowa, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and the University of Pittsburgh. These awards were made in response to RFA-DE-03-006.

Program Announcements

Oral Health Research Curriculum Grants (R25)
Seven applications were received in response to this PAR. They were reviewed August 19 and will be presented to Council.

The NIDCR intends to proceed with another R25 award to support the development of a national model curriculum. The curriculum will cover areas of importance to the future of scientifically based oral care but in which few, if any, dental schools currently have adequate expertise. The award will enable dental schools to collaborate with public and private non-profit organizations, including foundations and scientific associations, as well as encourage consortia among several health professional institutions for the purpose of curriculum development in areas such as (but not limited to) genetics, bioinformatics, biomimetics and tissue engineering, oral carcinoma, infection and immunotherapy, and neurobiology. The model curricula will be made available to all dental schools.

New Policies for Research Supplement Programs

NIDCR has developed new Institute policies and procedures for participating in the NIH research supplement programs for Underrepresented Minorities; Individuals with Disabilities; and Supplements to Promote Reentry into Biomedical Research Careers. These programs are designed to attract and train individuals, with the goal of ultimately increasing the number of individuals in careers in biomedical, behavioral, clinical, and social sciences research. NIDCR has participated in these programs since 1989. However, it has been determined that policies and procedures for processing these applications are necessary. Staff has developed a table highlighting eligibility criteria and level of funding for career stages (High School, College, Post-Baccalaureate and Post-Master's Degree, Graduate Research Assistant, Individuals in Postdoctoral Positions, and Investigators).  See the research supplement information on the NIDCR web site.

Meeting with IADR/AADR

Together with the NIDCR Deputy Director, staff from the NIDCR Offices of Research Training, Infrastructure, Curriculum Development and Recruitment Programs met with Dr. Christopher Fox, Executive Director, IADR/AADR, in July. They explored joint opportunities in training, research infrastructure, curriculum development, and recruitment, and plan to hold future meetings.

Recruitment Efforts

Staff participated in a minority faculty and administrators' forum at the annual meeting of the National Dental Association in New Orleans in August, and presented opportunities for research training that could benefit both faculty and students in dental schools.

In July, staff met with 30 residents in the General Practice Residency and Pediatric Dentistry Residency Programs at the Bronx/Lebanon Hospital Center, NY, to discuss research programs and training opportunities available in New York. The hospital attracts a substantial number of minorities into these residency programs. The director of the hospital's Dentistry and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery programs has indicated that he would like the residents to be involved in basic and clinical biomedical and behavioral research. Staff also spoke to dental students participating in the Short-Term Training Program at the New York University (NYU) School of Dentistry. Students in the program are from the New York University, Howard University, and University of Puerto Rico dental schools.

Staff attended the Student Research Forum at the University of Maryland, Baltimore on August 8. The forum is the culmination of a 10-week research training program for dental, medical, graduate, and college students held during the summer. It provides the students with an opportunity to present their research projects. Seventeen summer students supported through NIDCR participated in the university's summer research training program.


Requests for Applications (RFAs)

The following RFAs have been issued since the last meeting of the NADCRC:

The Salivary Proteome: Catalogue of Salivary Secretory Components 

Comparative Genetics of Structural Birth Defects

Microarray Central Facility for Oral Pathogens

In collaboration with the National Institute of AlIergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the NIDCR has established a contract with The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Gaithersburg, MD to produce and distribute DNA microarray slides for the complete genomes of Porphyromonas gingivalis and Streptococcus mutans . The slides will be manufactured using current state-of-the-science protocols and quality-checked by TIGR. Researchers will be allowed to request up to 150 slides through a brief, yet competitive, application process. The slides will allow investigators to determine the expression of genes turned on or off when grown under defined conditions. Because such microarray data are obtained from the entire genome of the bacterium, patterns of gene expression, even genes for which no function is currently known, can be identified and targeted for further research. The contract is viewed as a cost-effective way to supply an important resource to laboratories studying oral microbiology to rapidly advance the field of microbial genomics.

Nanocomposite Materials

Hybrid Plastics received a Nano-Republic 2003 Conference Award for most promising application in the area of nanocomposite materials. Dr. Joseph D. Lichtenstein, a scientist at Hybrid Plastics, is supported (for both Phase I and Phase II awards) by the NIDCR to develop a new class of nanocomposite dental restorative material based upon polyhedral oligomeric silesquioxane (POSS). POSS nanocomposites have the potential to eliminate all of the major deficiencies that affect existing dental materials, permitting a quantum leap forward in the use of composite-based dental restorative material.


Requests for Applications (RFAs)

The following RFAs have been issued since the last meeting of the NADCRC:

Research on Mind-Body Interactions and Health

State Models for Oral Cancer Prevention and Early Detection—Phase II

Program Announcements (PAs)

The following PA has been issued since the last meeting of the NADCRC:

Biobehavioral Pain Research (PA-03-152) 

DPHPS Staff Brief Director of Indian Health Service
Dr. Charles Grim, recently appointed Director of the Indian Health Service and Assistant Surgeon General, was briefed by Dr. Ruth Nowjack-Raymer, program director of the DPHPS Health Disparities Research Program. She discussed NIDCR's initiatives related to health disparities research and opportunities with a particular focus on Native Americans and Alaska Natives. The briefing also included a discussion of the work of the Northwest/Alaska Center to Reduce Oral Health Disparities at the University of Washington.

ADA National Fluoridation Advisory Committee

Dr. Robert Selwitz, chief of the Health Policy, Analysis and Development Branch, presented a report on NIDCR fluoride and fluoridation research activities at the annual meeting of the American Dental Association's National Fluoridation Advisory Committee, held June 26-27 at the American Dental Association (ADA) headquarters in Chicago. Dr. Selwitz also participated in the committee's review and discussion of Fluoridation Facts , an ADA publication currently undergoing revision.

Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Data Resource Center

Announcements about the Data Resource Center's (DRC) new web site were published in a number of professional journals. The Data Query System has been expanded to include the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey; it became available for public use as of September 1. The DRC web site now includes a facility for requesting data and documentation from NIDCR surveys.


With six years of collected national oral health data, the NIDCR has informed the National Center for Health Statistics that it will end its support for the dental examination component of NHANES IV at the end of 2004. The NIDCR will retain the option of re-entering the NHANES in the future. In lieu of the NHANES, the Division will develop initiatives to document oral disease and its determinants in populations that are not currently studied in the NHANES.


Board of Scientific Counselors Reviews Oral Infection and Immunity Branch
The Board of Scientific Counselors reviewed the Oral Infection and Immunity Branch on June 1-2. The principal investigators were praised for their research efforts, and branch chief Sharon Wahl was cited for her outstanding leadership of the largest research group in the DIR.

Tenure Track Review
The Board of Scientific Counselors also reviewed the progress of three DIR tenure track scientists--Dr. Adrian Senderowicz and Dr. Thomas Bugge, from the Oral Pharyngeal Cancer Branch, and Dr. Jay Chiorini, from the Gene Therapy and Therapeutics Branch. All three scientists were approved, and the Board recommended that the Scientific Director, at his discretion, fast-track Dr. Bugge to tenure.

Publications of Note
Fibronectin requirement in branching morphogenesis. 2003

Takayoshi, S., M. Larsen and Kenneth Yamada. Nature 423:876-881. ( see story on p. 6 )

The following article appeared as a cover story in the Journal of Bacteriology : Coaggregation mediated interactions of streptococci and actinomyces detected in human dental plaque. 2003. J. Palmer, S. M. Gordon, I. O. Cisar and P. Kolenbrander. J. Bacteriology 185:3400-3409.

Building 30 Renovations
The new vivarium is scheduled to open mid- to late September, and the veterinarian and his staff will start to move animals into the new quarters shortly thereafter. Renovation of the fifth floor will begin immediately after the vivarium is operational. Phase 1 of the fourth floor renovation of the Craniofacial Developmental Biology and Regeneration Branch area is nearly complete and phase 2 will start shortly.


Colloquium on Career Paths for Women in the Health Sciences: A Global Perspective
Dr. Cohen has been invited to participate in a Colloquium on Career Paths for Women in the Health Sciences: A Global Perspective, jointly sponsored by the Fogarty International Center, the Office of Research on Women's Health, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, October 15-16. The colloquium will develop recommendations for action aimed at the career path choices and realities for women life scientists in the developing world. The recommendations will be based on consideration of economic, cultural and social barriers and best practices being used to enhance opportunities globally.

World Health Organization (WHO) Activities
Dr. Kevin Hardwick, International Health Officer, participated in the World Health Organization Workshop on the Effectiveness of Community-Based Oral Health Promotion and Oral Disease Prevention held in Geneva on June 19-20. The purpose of the meeting was to share experiences in evaluating community oral health programs in various parts of the world, and to provide guidance to WHO to help develop guidelines for appropriate evaluation approaches in the future. Dr. Hardwick presented examples from the U.S. regarding evaluation of community-based tobacco cessation and prevention programs, with an emphasis on the evaluation plan developed for NCI's COMMIT program.

NIDCR staff participated in a meeting of WHO Collaborating Centers in Oral Health on June 24 in Goteborg, Sweden. The meeting focused on ways that the Collaborating Centers in Oral Health can communicate more effectively and collaborate to assist WHO headquarters in improving global oral health. The NIDCR is the WHO Collaborating Center for International Collaboration in Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Canadian Institutes for Health Research
NIDCR staff is working to develop a relationship with staff from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. Dr. Cohen will participate in the next meeting of the advisory board of the Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA) of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, October 2-3 in London, Ontario. In addition, there will be a meeting with Canadian Institute directors and NIH Institute and Center directors at the end of October that will help guide further collaborations.


Diabetes and Oral Health
Two updated information cards on diabetes and oral health are now available from NOHIC: Diabetes: Dental Tips and the Spanish adaptation, Diabetes: Consejos Sobre Salud Oral. These concise patient handouts describe signals that warn of oral health problems in people with diabetes and provide practical information on preventing periodontal complications associated with this disorder.


Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) Update
As of the 3rd quarter FY 2003, the NIDCR workforce is comprised of 478 staff members, including 245 employees, 152 trainees/fellows, and 81 contractors, guest researchers, Inter-governmental Personnel Act staffers and special volunteers. There are 34 employees with disabilities. The workforce profile includes 26 percent White males, 26 percent White females, 25 percent Asians, 9 percent African Americans, 6 percent Hispanics and 0.4 percent Native Americans.

Recruitment and Education Outreach
The NIDCR Office of Diversity Management continues to participate in the NIH Native American Powwow Initiative to address health disparities and recruit Native Americans for training and employment opportunities. This summer, NIDCR Office of Diversity Management staff attended the Lenni Lenape Nanticoke Powwow in Salem, NJ, the Shenandoah Valley Powwow in Virginia, and the Common Ground Powwow in La Plata, MD. Health education materials related to diabetes, dental care, and cancer were provided to over 900 attendees.

The NIDCR supported the NIH National Youth Initiatives for African Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics by providing information on health disparities and summer student research training opportunities. In addition, Dr. Sunil Wadhwa, a DIR research fellow, hosted a laboratory tour in Building 30 for nine high school students participating in the NIH National Hispanic Youth Initiative Program in July. He gave a presentation on his research as well as other research opportunities at the NIDCR. Dr. Sharon Gordon, Office of Education, provided the students with information packets on NIDCR summer student research training opportunities.

The NIDCR continues to participate in the NIH Project Out of the Box, an outgrowth of the Native American Initiative. The project is coordinated through the NIH EEO Office. The project involves a quarterly mailing to four 4 th grade classes at Eagle Butte Upper Elementary School on the Lakota Reservation in South Dakota, Ketcham Elementary in Washington, D.C., Rock Creek Forest Elementary in Maryland, and the Kalihi Waena Elementary School in Hawaii. Each school receives a box with a letter for the students highlighting several health topics. The teachers received the “Open Wide Trek Inside” curriculum supplement along with suggestions for conducting classroom exercises.

NIDCR Summer Programs
The 2003 NIDCR Summer Programs successfully recruited a diverse group of students. There were 26 students in the research programs. Of these, 23 percent were White female, 23 percent were Asian American, 8 percent were African American, 8 percent were Hispanic, 4 percent were Native American, and 34 percent were White males; one student had a disability. In addition, two summer students were hired for administrative positions; one was African American and the other was Hispanic.

Workplace Diversity Initiative
The NIDCR Diversity Program Manager collaborated with the NIDDK, NICHD and NIDCD Equal Employment Opportunity Managers to develop a six-hour diversity training on-site session for all managers and supervisors. The session is customized to address the regulations, processes and issues that NIH managers face in managing a diverse workforce. A pilot session was held on July 9 with 13 attendees from the four institutes. Based on the feedback, the session was well received. Minor changes are being made to the session and reference materials. A second pilot was held on August 20. A schedule is being developed to ensure that all managers and supervisors attend the training.

The NIH Diversity Management Training interactive web-based module is now complete and available to all NIH Staff. This module focuses on understanding Diversity Management, Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action at NIH. This interactive tool will be used to train all new employees.


Dr. Thomas Hart will begin his appointment as NIDCR's Clinical Director later this month. Dr. Hart comes to the NIDCR from the University of Pittsburgh where he was an associate professor in the Department of Genetics and the Department of Oral Biology. Since 2001, he also has served as Director of Clinical Research, University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine and Director of its Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics. His research focuses on the molecular genetics of human craniofacial diseases and disorders. Dr. Hart received his D.D.S. from Emory University and a Ph.D. in human genetics from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Dr. Margo Adesanya resigned in July after 11 years with the NIDCR. She began in 1992 as a clinical associate in the Division of Intramural Research. From there she moved to the Division of Epidemiology and Oral Disease Prevention Program, and most recently to the Division of Population and Health Promotion Sciences. Dr. Adesanya was program director of the Clinical Trials and Patient-Oriented Research program. Recruitment to replace her is currently under way.

It is with great sadness that we report that Dr. Herschel Horowitz, a world-renowned dental caries researcher who led the clinical trials program of the National Caries Program and its successor program at the Institute from 1971-1985, died August 10. Dr. Horowitz' investigations established the foundation for many caries prevention public health programs. His research focused on the effectiveness of fluoride toothpastes and mouthrinses, fluoride gels, dental sealants, water fluoridation, and multiple preventive measures. His work also explored the concepts of cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness of these measures as well as research ethics. He received many honors during the course of his career, including the H. Trendley Dean Award from the International Association for Dental Research, the Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of Public Health Dentistry, and the John Knutson Distinguished Service Award from the Public Health Association. After retiring from the NIDCR, he served as a consultant to numerous organizations, including the American Dental Association's National Fluoridation Advisory Committee. The Institute is planning a scientific memorial symposium in his honor to be held in the coming months and Council members will be informed once a date has been set.

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This page last updated: May 12, 2014