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Institutional Training for a Dental and Craniofacial Research Workforce

Research Training and Career Development Branch
Division of Extramural Activities

The purpose of the Institutional Training for a Dental and Craniofacial Research Workforce program is to establish comprehensive integrated institutional training programs to provide pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training opportunities in dental, oral and craniofacial research.

As detailed in the NIDCR Strategic Plan, the mission of the training and career development program is to strengthen the pipeline of researchers dedicated to solving problems in oral, dental and craniofacial health. One of the objectives within this goal is for schools of dentistry to establish vibrant research pathways, and to identify and mentor students and faculty poised to pursue research career training. A second objective is to offer new programs to recruit and provide training opportunities for PhD students and postdoctoral fellows with backgrounds in other areas of biomedical science, in order to tap into a robust source of new independent investigators.

Evaluation of the NIDCR’s training and career development program has shown that only 4 percent of long-term trainees supported by T32 grants during the years 1995-2003 have gone on to receive R01 or equivalent grants. In fact, only 9 percent of those trainees have even applied for R01 grants. Looking only at postdoctoral T32 trainees, 4.3 percent of NIDCR trainees have received R01 grants, compared with the overall NIH outcome of 22.1%, a very significant deficit. Clearly, the NIDCR’s current T32 program has not been successful in terms of this outcome, and there is a need to revise and refocus the program.

The NIDCR plans to use the T90/R90 mechanism to fund its institutional training program. The T90/R90 was introduced as a Roadmap program for training interdisciplinary researchers, and unlike the T32 program, allows training to be provided to individuals who are not US citizens or permanent residents.

The goal of this initiative is to promote fresh, innovative, and novel training approaches to provide predoctoral and postdoctoral research training opportunities for individuals interested in pursuing research careers in dental, oral and craniofacial research. The awards issued under this program are comprehensive training grants to support both predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees, and can include a mix of the following components:

  • a predoctoral Dental Scientist Training Program (DSTP) to support trainees to obtain both the DDS/DMD and PhD degrees in an integrated program with the goal of producing dentist-scientists to conduct clinically-relevant oral health research (T90);
  •  predoctoral research training which leads to the PhD or equivalent research degree for promising doctoral candidates who will be performing dissertation research and training in scientific health-related fields relevant to the NIDCR’s mission (T90);
  • postdoctoral training for dentists leading to the PhD or equivalent research degree, or leading to the Masters in Clinical Research degree (T90);
  • postdoctoral training for dentist scientists or non-clinician PhD scientists (T90);
  • oral pathobiology training for non-clinician PhD scientists, to provide an understanding of the clinical relevance of their basic science research activities; and
  • support for PhD and/or postdoctoral training for non-citizen dentists (R90).

Training activities can be in basic biomedical or clinical sciences, in behavioral or social sciences, in health services research, or in any other discipline relevant to the mission of the Institute as articulated in the NIDCR Strategic Plan.

This Institutional Training Grant program will be focused on the stated mission of producing the next generation of oral and craniofacial researchers. The program will be structured to launch individuals into research careers, providing them with the initial support required to get started, with the expectation that they will then move off of the training grant and on to other forms of training support – such as other school-based support, NIH support such as individual Fellowships and K Career Development Awards, or other organization/foundation support. Other significant changes in the program will be the ability to use NIH funds to support postdoctoral training for non-citizen dentists and allowing non-dental school institutions to apply.

Applications for support under this new initiative will be reviewed on the basis of the research training environment, the strength and breadth of the scientific and career mentorship, and evidence of a strong past record of success in training individuals to independent research careers.

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This page last updated: February 26, 2014