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RWJF adds dentistry to its long-running faculty development program

Princeton, N.J.—A national program that has fostered diversity among U.S. medical school faculty for the past 25 years will now do the same for dental school faculty.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program will support dental scholars starting with its 2012 application period.

“Our nation’s dental schools face a serious diversity gap,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., RWJF president and chief executive officer. “By expanding the mission of the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, we aim to narrow this gap, help meet the oral health needs of the country’s most vulnerable individuals and contribute to pioneering oral health research.”

Only 4.7 percent of full-time faculty members at U.S. dental schools are black and 7.5 percent are Hispanic, according to the American Dental Education Association. Of the 4,600 graduates from U.S. dental schools, only 10.9 percent are Hispanic, black or American Indian.

Beginning with its 2012 application period, the Harold Amos program will fund one or more dentists. For four years, each dental scholar will conduct research in association with a senior faculty member located at an academic dental center noted for its training of young faculty and with the capacity to pursue lines of investigation of particular interest to the scholar.

The Harold Amos dental scholars will be selected based on academic achievement, commitment to academic research careers and potential to achieve senior rank in academic dentistry. Harold Amos scholars receive an annual stipend of up to $75,000 each, complemented by a $30,000 annual grant to support research activities. The program will begin accepting applications for its next grant cycle starting in February 2012.

As a result of the expansion, two representatives from academic dentistry have joined the Harold Amos national advisory committee. They are Dr. Francisco Ramos-Gomez, professor, Section of Pediatric Dentistry, University of California-Los Angeles School of Dentistry; and Dr. George W. Taylor, the Leland A. and Gladys K. Barber Distinguished Professor in Dentistry and chair of the Department of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences at the University of California-San Francisco School of Dentistry. Dr. Ramos-Gomez is a member of the ADA Council on Dental Education and Licensure’s Career Guidance and Diversity Activities Committee representing the Hispanic Dental Association.

“The Harold Amos program will provide our new dental scholars with a professionally supportive environment and new opportunities to pursue innovative research that will advance oral health and dental care and help reduce disparities in oral health,” said James R. Gavin III, M.D., national program director for the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program.

The late Harold Amos, Ph.D., was the first African American to chair a department at the Harvard Medical School. The program that bears his name works to increase the number of faculty from historically disadvantaged backgrounds who can achieve senior rank in academic medicine or dentistry, and who will encourage and foster the development of succeeding classes of such physicians and dentists. For more information, visit “www.amfdp.org”.