Oral biology researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine will now be able to pursue advanced dental care projects with a training grant awarded to the school by the National Institutes of Health.
The National Research Service Award Institutional Research Training Grant will be spread over five years through 2018. It provides $1.2 million for Ph.D candidates and postdoctoral fellows to work on issues that affect dental care, including salivary gland physiology and oral infectious diseases.
"There is a great need, perhaps even a mandate, to train new scientists how to work interprofessionally to produce research," said Frank Scannapieco, Ph.D., chairman of oral biology at the dental school. "Through innovative partnerships, our faculty has made great strides in their own research and can serve as excellent mentors for these trainees."
UB's Department of Oral Biology is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and is the longest-running Ph.D. program in oral biology in the United States.
Along with 80 Ph.D. recipients produced by SUNY at Buffalo in oral biology over the course of its 50 years, postdoctural students and visiting scientists have received advanced training at the school that has often included major contributions to dental research and education. These projects frequently result in better dental services for patients, but they often come at a high price. For families that cannot find affordable dental insurance, dental discount plans offer an economical way to obtain oral healthcare.
In addition to the NIH grant, the oral biology department recently won a university-wide competition for staff funding that will allow the program to hire five new tenure-track faculty members. The department's specialties in oral health and complex disease, in particular, will receive a boost from the additional staffing.
Scannapieco said the added faculty will help diversify the expertise in the university's research in this area, which includes both basic sciences and clinical programs.
The department also collaborates with teaching staff in other university programs, including the School of Dental Medicine, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the School of Public Health and Health Professions, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and UB's New York State Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences.
The award to the oral biology department is one of many grants that SUNY at Buffalo has received from the NIH for various academic and research programs during the current fiscal year, which total nearly $28.7 million.
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