NIDCR is PRIMED to move AHEAD with IMPACT: Institute Awards $14 Million to Tackle Unsolved Clinical Challenges

Ambitious new initiatives to drive scientific advances in head and neck cancer, temporomandibular disorders, and practice-based dental research that engages the next generation

A photo of the physician chatting with her staff while treating a patient
Adobe Stock

NIDCR has issued 26 awards, totaling $14.1 million, as part of three bold new initiatives to tackle unsolved clinical challenges:

  • Practice-Based Research and Multidisciplinary Experiences in Dental Schools (PRIMED)
  • Advancing Head and Neck Cancer Early Detection Research (AHEAD)
  • TMD Collaborative for IMproving Patient-Centered Translational Research (TMD IMPACT)

“Head and neck cancers and temporomandibular disorders collectively affect tens of millions of people in the U.S. Yet, gaps in our understanding of these diseases impede our ability to provide better care and quality of life for patients. Key to improving the lives of people affected by these and other dental, oral, and craniofacial diseases will be fostering a robust pipeline of dentist-scientists who are equipped to drive scientific discoveries and translate them into the clinic,” said NIDCR Director Rena D’Souza, D.D.S., Ph.D. “With these three new programs, we are PRIMED to move AHEAD with IMPACT.”

Practice-Based Research and Multidisciplinary Experiences in Dental Schools (PRIMED)

PRIMED is an unprecedented initiative to foster a sustained culture of scientific inquiry within dental schools across the U.S. Data suggest that about 30% of dentist-scientist graduates pursue research careers in academia. Therefore, enriching the research workforce with formally trained clinical scholars who can translate clinical observations into research questions, and ultimately, into evidence-based care, is vital to the future of the profession.

To address this need, NIDCR launched PRIMED to provide dental school faculty, students, residents, and staff across the nation with skills and experience in conducting patient-oriented clinical research in real-world dental practices. Importantly, these opportunities will involve peer and student mentoring and collaborations within and among institutions. They will also leverage resources through the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences’ Clinical and Translational Science Awards programs.

“The students will be immersed in a culture that sparks curiosity and equips them with skills to pursue research careers and new discoveries,” said Dr. D’Souza. “We are investing in the brilliant young minds that will shape the profession’s future to improve oral health, general health, and well-being for all.”

NIDCR recently issued 10 PRIMED awards totaling $6.9 million to dental institutions across the country for up to five years of support. Through the various collaborations, 58 institutions will be involved.

For more information about the awards, visit the PRIMED initiative webpage.

Advancing Head and Neck Cancer Early Detection Research (AHEAD)

NIDCR and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have partnered on AHEAD to foster interdisciplinary research collaborations to improve early detection of head and neck cancers. Head and neck cancers are the sixth most common type of cancer worldwide. Despite prevention efforts and improved treatment, the survival rate remains low, and patients are burdened with low quality of life. This is due in part to the fact that head and neck cancer can be hard to detect in its early stages, so it is often quite advanced once diagnosed.

AHEAD aims to fill a scientific need for systematic discovery and validation of biomarkers that better predict head and neck cancer development and recurrence. Investigators will be able to leverage valuable NIDCR and NCI resources to enhance their research capabilities, including NCI’s Early Detection Research Network (EDRN). This national hub provides infrastructure for discovery and validation of biomarkers for early cancer detection.

”The AHEAD program is not only bringing together unique collaborations among outstanding scientists with multidisciplinary expertise, but it is also bridging these researchers with the NCI EDRN program for the first time,” said Zhong Chen, M.D., Ph.D., Director of NIDCR’s Oral and Salivary Cancer Biology Program.

NIDCR recently issued seven AHEAD awards, one of which was co-funded with NCI, totaling $4.4 million for up to five years of support.

For more information about the awards, visit the AHEAD initiative webpage.

TMD Collaborative for IMproving Patient-Centered Translational Research (TMD IMPACT)

In the first effort of its kind, NIDCR has partnered with multiple NIH institutes, centers, and offices and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a coordinated, multilevel approach to improve prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs).

“TMDs” refers to more than 30 conditions that can cause debilitating pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint, chewing muscles, and surrounding tissues. TMDs can occur alone or with other conditions such as headaches, back pain, sleep problems, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome. Driven by a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and environmental factors, the disorders affect 5% to 10% of the U.S. population and are twice as common in women than in men. Significant gaps in scientists’ understanding of the causal mechanisms have prevented development of effective evidence-based treatments.

To address these complexities, TMD IMPACT aims to establish a national, interdisciplinary, patient-centered research collaborative to accelerate basic, translational, clinical, and population-based research on TMDs.

“The collaborative nature of the programs will allow researchers to tap into various resources and leverage expertise from different disciplines to tackle their questions,” said Lillian Shum, Ph.D., Director of NIDCR’s Division of Extramural Research. “These are significant strides to support researchers’ scientific endeavors and bring new hope to the patient communities.”

NIDCR recently issued nine TMD IMPACT planning grants totaling $2.8 million to support the conceptualization and design of the future collaborative.

For more information about the awards, visit the TMD IMPACT initiative webpage.

Related Links

Attention Editors

Reprint this article in your own publication or post to your website. NIDCR News articles are not copyrighted. Please acknowledge NIH's National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research as the source.

Subscribe to NIDCR Science News

Receive monthly email updates about NIDCR-supported research advances by subscribing to NIDCR Science News.

Last Reviewed
November 2023

NIDCR News Archive

2023 | 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018