Fellowship in Oral Health Informatics

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The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) co-sponsors a 2-year Fellowship in Oral Health Informatics (OHI). This 2-year full-time post-doctoral fellowship opportunity is for dentists interested applying informatics science as it relates to research, education, and clinical care in the broad area of public health dentistry. Fellows successfully completing the OHI Fellowship will earn a Certificate in Dental Informatics and will also earn a Certificate in Dental Public Health issued by NIDCR acknowledging that graduates are educationally eligible to challenge the specialty certifying exam in Dental Public Health. The NIDCR presents an unique place for the study of health informatics and dental public health. As part of the NIH, an agency of the U.S. Public Health Service and the largest biomedical research agency in the world, the NIDCR aims to improve dental, oral, and craniofacial health through research, research training, and the dissemination of health information. Dentist-trainees in the OHI Fellowship Program at the NIDCR will have the opportunity to be engaged in population-based research and be exposed to various public health related activities in the Nation’s capital region. This is a full-time fellowship program at the NIH main campus in Bethesda, MD.

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Mission and Goals

The mission of the NlDCR Informatics-Dental Public Health Fellowship Program is to offer exceptional training that is research-focused in the areas of informatics science and dental public health to prepare our dentist-trainees to become successful researchers in academia, industry, and/or government.

The Program’s overall goal is to educate our dentist-trainees to become critical thinkers, life-long learners, and competent specialists. The primary objectives of the Program are: 

  • to develop additional knowledge for Fellows’ in the methods of scientific inquiry and research to solve dental public health problems or ascertain useful information regarding oral and craniofacial health and its relation to overall health, 
  • to provide to trainees’ opportunities to gain additional knowledge and experience in health informatics,  
  • to expand Fellows’ skills in data science with an emphasis on public health Informatics,
  • to provide postdoctoral trainees with adequate preparation for examination and certification by the American Board of Dental Public Health, and
  • to prepare dentists whose plans are to become specialists and leaders in academia and government with the desire to improve oral health of populations in the US and/or globally.
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About the Program

Health Informatics is a rapidly growing field of expertise that encompasses a number of areas from information processing and technology to statistics and data visualization for application in the health sciences. Health Informatics has the potential to transform healthcare through the discovery of new approaches to information management in biomedical research, clinic care, and public health. According to the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), informaticians are advancing health informatics through research and practice in 5 primary areas: translational bioinformatics, clinical research informatics, clinical informatics, consumer health informatics, and public health informatics.

The NLM defines health informatics as "the interdisciplinary study of the design, development, adoption and application of IT-based innovations in healthcare services delivery, management and planning". The NIDCR-NLM Fellowship in OHI is designed to provide broad exposure to the resources and methods required to optimize the acquisition, management, and use of information in health and biomedicine. The OHI training program is focused on data science and research, and it is devised for dentists with an interest in applying informatics science as it relates to dental research, education, and clinical care. Fellows will learn to conceptualize, plan, implement and conduct an informatics research project under the guidance of mentors from NLM and NIDCR.

NLM's Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications (LHNCBC) engages in research and development in biomedical informatics and the use of advanced communications and computing technologies to improve how NLM brings clinical data and health information to consumers, health care providers, and researchers. LHNCBC research projects are organized in six research areas: (1) Clinical Data Standards & Electronic Medical Records; (2) Collaboration Technologies & Mobile Health Applications; (3) Document Processing; (4) Health Information Resources; (5) Image Processing & Visualization; and (6) Natural Language Processing. Participants in the NIDCR-NLM OHI Fellowship have the opportunity for enhanced exposure in these areas.

In addition to comprehensive research training, the content of the training curriculum and the Fellow’s training plan are designed to ensure that each Fellow achieves a foundational level of knowledge in health informatics and in dental public health. The educational structure of the program is based on a number of learning experiences, including some site visits, seminars and lectures, critical thinking and scholarship. The program aims to promote educational and research opportunities utilizing electronic health record (EHR) databases and dental claims data to provide opportunities for Fellows to conduct informatics research. Other informatics projects are possible and Fellows may have the opportunity to use dental EHR information from other sources or other sourced biomedical and genomic data with an emphasis on incorporating “Big Data” or data analytics concepts and skills, such as text mining, named entity recognition, image analysis or health records analysis, and clinical research informatics. Topics in clinical informatics could include capture, processing, and analysis of clinical data for patient care and research and the development of health informatics resources.

Informatics research projects could include health services research, disease prevention and health promotion, and policy interventions and natural experiments, to better understand which components and processes provide the best benefit to patients and populations. These projects align well with the evidence-based approach in health care and public health.

Individuals in the NIDCR-NLM OHI Fellowship will concurrently participate in the NIDCR Dental Public Health (DPH) training program. This Program provides a formal training opportunity for dentists planning careers in dental public health, with an emphasis on oral and craniofacial, health-related epidemiologic research and is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). By participating in both health informatics and dental public health training, OHI Fellows will receive an enriching experience that merges public health dentistry and informatics science in a transformative way. This training opportunity is for dentists planning a research-focused public health informatics careers in academia, large health care providers, health care plans / insurers, and government.

Fellows completing the NIDCR’s Dental Public Health training requirements over the 2-year OHI Fellowship will earn a Certificate in Dental Public Health issued by NIDCR acknowledging that graduates are educationally eligible to challenge the specialty certifying exam in Dental Public Health. Fellows successfully completing the OHI Fellowship will earn a Certificate in Oral Health Informatics.

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Faculty and Resources

The NIDCR Program Manager for the OHI Fellowship is also the Director of the DPH Residency Program and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health. The NLM Program Manager for the OHI Fellowship is Director of the Biomedical Informatics Training Program at LHNCBC. Participants interact with staff from the NIDCR, NLM, and elsewhere, and include informaticians, computer scientists, clinical investigators, epidemiologists, statisticians and data scientists. In addition, qualified scientists in practically every area of biomedical, behavioral, and health services research are available for consultation. The entire resources of the NIDCR are available to Fellows, as are other supporting facilities of the LHNCBC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These include a large scientific computer network, excellent medical libraries, and other research and educational services. Fellows are eligible to attend seminars, guest lectures, and short courses offered at the NIH.

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Admissions Requirements

Applicants must be graduates of a school of dentistry accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the United States (CODA) of the American Dental Association or the Commission on Dental Accreditation of Canada (CDAC). Applicants who are graduates of a school of dentistry outside the U.S. must be deemed to have equivalent education as determined by the Program Director.

Applicants must also have completed at least one academic year of advanced training and obtained a graduate degree in public health (MPH or equivalent) in an area related to the practice of public health. Examples of an equivalent public health degree could be a MHS, DrPH, or PhD in Epidemiology. The advanced graduate public health program should include courses in biostatistics, epidemiology, health care policy and management, environmental health and behavioral sciences. Applicants with training or experience in natural language processing, image analysis, computational biostatistics or a general background in computer science would receive special consideration. Although the program encourages dentists with prior informatics graduate education to apply, completing a MS in Informatics is not requirement for application.

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Financial Considerations

A stipend is available to support trainees who meet eligibility criteria. Applicants will not be charged an application fee and there are no registration fees or tuition to participate in this training program. Equal consideration is given to all applicants without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or age.

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To Apply

The Fellowship in Oral Health Informatics will not accept fellows for Program Year 2021-2022.

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Last Reviewed
April 2020