e-mail Print Share

Penn Dental Medicine adds DScD degree to academic options

Program gives students an opportunity to pursue research, encourages academic careers

January 10, 2012

Dr. Denis Kinane, Morton Amsterdam Dean of Penn Dental Medicine

Philadelphia—Penn Dental Medicine is adding a new doctoral degree to its academic programs to provide students the opportunity to pursue research across disciplines.

The degree will combine a doctor of science in dentistry (DScD) with advanced training in a clinical dental specialty. It will be open to students with a DMD/DDS degree or equivalent who are pursuing advanced training in one of Penn Dental Medicine's clinical specialty programs. The school says that it will initially be limited to students in the periodontics, endodontics, orthodontics, periodontic/prosthesis or oral medicine postgraduate programs.

A statement from Penn says that "candidates will concurrently complete their clinical specialty training and DScD degree, engaging in an intensive research program for approximately five years that culminates in a thesis and oral defense."

Individuals who have completed their clinical specialty training and are interested in obtaining a DScD degree will also be able to participate in the program. Those students would earn their DScD in four years, completing all of the didactic courses and research requirements without directly participating in clinical care.

"There is a significant need to inspire students to enter academic dentistry, and to prepare them for successful careers through extensive research experience—that is our key goal with this new program," said Dr. Denis Kinane, Morton Amsterdam Dean of Penn Dental Medicine. "It will enable students to utilize the strong research environment at Penn Dental Medicine and the other schools within the University of Pennsylvania."

"The program will combine both the research and clinical strengths of the school and increase interaction between the basic and clinical departments, drawing faculty mentors from both," said Dr. Dana Graves, professor in the Department of Periodontics and associate dean for translational research, who worked with Dr. Claire Mitchell, associate professor, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, to develop the program.

Faculty from Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, School of Medicine, School of Nursing and School of Veterinary Medicine will also participate. "The involvement of other schools will broaden the range of research projects available, and conversely, DScD students will enrich the laboratories in which they participate," said Dr. Mitchell.

"Both rigorous clinical and research experiences are central to the DScD program," said Dr. Graves. Students will devote from 40 to 80 percent of their time in each of the five years to research, and clinical training will occur in all five years of the program to ensure maintenance of clinical skills throughout.

The new program was approved by the University of Pennsylvania Trustees at their November 2011 meeting and is undergoing final approval by the Commission on Dental Accreditation.