From the Director

Martha J. Somerman, D.D.S., Ph.D.

Welcome to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), the Nation's leading supporter of dental, oral, and craniofacial research.

The NIDCR was established in 1948, the third of the National Institutes of Health, and I am honored to serve as the institute's eighth director. While much has changed in American life since the institute's inception, maintaining good oral health remains an important everyday challenge. Rare is the person who does not at some point in his or her life develop a painful and/or chronic oral condition. These conditions often have a direct impact on our appearance, our choice of foods, our ability to communicate, and even our self esteem.

Today's scientific advances have opened up unlimited opportunities in dental, oral, and craniofacial research. Among them are some of the most interesting issues in human biology and public health. These include defining the developmental genomics of the human head and face, engineering replacement tissues, developing saliva-based tests to detect disease, targeting therapies to directly halt head and neck cancer, tracking the structural dynamics of the microbial communities that inhabit the mouth, developing better pain management, regenerating bones and teeth, exploiting our natural immunity to fight infection and inflammation, and conducting high quality translational, clinical, and behavioral research. And those are just a few of the opportunities before us.

Through NIDCR supported research and the broader NIH scientific portfolio, people globally will face a future that offers improved oral health. I invite you to spend some time on our website. Explore NIDCR's scientific programs, our many training and career development opportunities, and our health education materials for members of the public and health care practitioners.

I welcome your comments and suggestions.

Martha J. Somerman, DDS, PhD
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research


Last Reviewed
July 2018