2021 - 2026 NIDCR Strategic Plan

NIDCR is drafting a strategic plan for fiscal years 2021-2026, which will help guide the Institute’s funding of research and training over the next six years. Under the leadership of Dr. Rena D’Souza, who was sworn in as the new Director of NIDCR in October 2020, NIDCR has updated its mission and defined a new overarching vision for the future, as well as guiding principles to steer the institute and help direct and execute the 2021 - 2026 Strategic Plan.


We aspire to transform human lives through scientific discoveries and innovations that advance dental, oral, and craniofacial (DOC) health and overall well-being for all.


The updated mission of NIDCR is to advance fundamental knowledge about dental, oral, and craniofacial (DOC) health and disease and translate these findings into prevention, early detection, and treatment strategies that improve overall health for all individuals and communities across the lifespan.


Our core values ground our thinking and guide our decisions across all aspects of the NIDCR research endeavor.

  • Scientific Excellence: We are dedicated to excellence and integrity in dental, oral, and craniofacial (DOC)  research and apply core principles of research, rigor and reproducibility to all funded studies. We ensure that all research is conducted ethically, and that data collected is well-described for replication or applications in other settings. We accelerate innovative and translational research with strategic investments in areas that are ripe for rapid advancement.
  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion: We are committed to developing a research workforce that represent our nation’s demographics across all aspects of race, ethnicity, gender/sexual identity, disability, socioeconomic status, and life experiences. We continually strive to build a community of clinicians, clinician scientists, and scientists with a wide range of expertise, skills, and perspectives in DOC research. 
  • Stewardship: We are responsible stewards of our resources and continually develop the next generation of researchers and those that support the research enterprise through the strengthening and building of our research capacity. We strive for transparency in our decision-making processes and hold ourselves accountable to all our stakeholders by managing our resources to achieve results that improve DOC health and reduce or eliminate DOC diseases for all people.   
  • Embracing and Managing Change: We understand that change is inevitable within our world, our field of science, and our workforce. We are committed to being proactive and nimble in our responses to challenges, emergencies, and crises. We encourage a learning culture that continually evaluates our processes and our accomplishments. Guided by our experiences and the lessons learned, we strive to find ways to apply these insights across our research endeavor.

Building on the 2014-2019 Strategic Plan and based on the foundation of our vision, mission, and guiding principles, NIDCR has established five strategic priorities, which are now being used to organize the 2021-2026 Strategic Plan.

Goal 1: Advance cross-disciplinary fundamental research in the biomedical, behavioral, social, and environmental sciences and drive its translation into innovations for the early diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental, oral and craniofacial (DOC) diseases and conditions across the lifespan.

Goal 2: Develop more precise and individualized ways of managing and preventing DOC diseases.

Goal 3: Accelerate the translation of research and the uptake of new discoveries into oral and general healthcare practices that reduce health inequities and disparities and improve oral health outcomes for individuals and communities worldwide.

Goal 4: Nurture future generations of DOC researchers and oral health professional scholars who can address existing and emerging challenges driven by personalized and public health needs and a continually evolving landscape of science and technology advances.

Goal 5: Expand already existing partnerships and create new ones to advance the NIDCR research enterprise and increase its reach and impact.

Last Reviewed
September 2021