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Developing a Multi-Disciplinary Oral Health Research Workforce

Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Branch
Division of Extramural Research

Research Training and Career Development Branch
Division of Extramural Activities


To expand the community of well-trained researchers and increase the breadth of research in oral health. This includes creating new collaborations focusing on oral health/craniofacial research, assisting the existing oral health/craniofacial research community to branch into new areas to augment the quality of research conducted, and  attracting new investigators to oral health/craniofacial research who would not otherwise engage in it.

The method is to provide mid- and senior-level investigators protected time for an intensive mentored research experience that can be accomplished in one year or less. The focus of the mentorship would be a new area of research for the investigator that will tie-in to his/her existing program(s) of research. Consultant fees will be offered to the mentor in order to secure their time. The expected outcome of this initiative is an increased number of multidisciplinary research teams led by experienced investigators.

This initiative is a pilot test using the NIDCR genetics and behavioral and social sciences research programs in collaboration with the training and career development program. Mid- and senior-level investigators who wish to expand genetic or behavioral/social sciences research will be targeted during this pilot. If successful the initiative would be open to all NIDCR research areas. 


There is increasing recognition that health challenges require robust multi-disciplinary solutions, and that equipping researchers to function in multi-disciplinary teams requires special attention. While NIDCR sponsors numerous training opportunities for early-career investigators, there are limited training opportunities for mid- and senior-level investigators, and those that are available assume the need for considerable effort devoted to an intensive training experience. For experienced investigators, a brief, intensive period of mentoring may be a better fit for their needs. 

The trans-NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) offered a short-term mentored award twice with great success in FY2010 (RFA-OD-10-003) and FY2011 (RFA-DE-11-003). Twenty-five percent of the first group of awardees submitted a new grant application along with their mentor within the first year after completing the award. On behalf of OppNet, the NIDCR took the lead in developing and administering these opportunities. This new initiative would extend the NIDCR initiative that was specifically designed to create a multidisciplinary team of mentors available to train junior researchers in orofacial pain (PAR-11-289). By targeting established investigators, this new initiative would attract new investigators and increase the pool of qualified investigators and multidisciplinary teams poised to conduct rigorous oral health research, across the NIDCR’s many scientific programs. Finally, in two NIDCR-sponsored expert consultation meetings on behavioral and social intervention research (2009 & 2011), diverse groups of experts agreed that short-term mentoring for established investigators would increase progress and efficiency of oral health research.

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This page last updated: February 26, 2014