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ADA Foundation and dental students confab on dynamics of research

June 18, 2012

By Jean Williams, ADA News staff

Gaithersburgh, Md.—The ADA Foundation Paffenbarger Research Center hosted 41 dental students at PRC and at the National Institutes of Health April 15-17 for the 48th Annual Dental Student Research Conference.

Mingling: Students pose at the 48th Annual Dental Student Research Conference. The ADA Foundation Paffenbarger Research Center hosted 41 dental students at PRC and at the National Institutes of Health April 15-17.

Students are still reflecting on the value of the experience in their growth into dental clinicians.

“The message was clear: research is not simply something students should be involved in during their school years,” said attendee Jessica Peinado, a dental student at University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Dentistry.

“But it should be an important part of every clinician’s practice. It is not necessary to always be at a lab bench, but it is essential to be able to understand and apply the most current scientific findings. Staying up-to-date with dental research allows dentists to give patients the best care possible.”

The annual gathering draws students from U.S. and Canadian dental schools for the chance to mingle with and hear from scientists about dental research careers and opportunities.

Students heard presentations from Dr. Gary Schumacher, associate director and chief research scientist of the PRC; Dr. Leo Rouse, dean of the Howard University School of Dentistry; Dr. Chris Fox, executive director of International Association for Dental Research/American Association for Dental Research; the ADA’s Dr. Ronald Zentz, senior director of the Council on Scientific Affairs; and Dr. Eric Lin, chief of the Polymers Division of National Institute of Standards and Technology. They also toured the PRC and heard presentations by current researchers.

Additionally, 21 students made poster presentations to their fellow students, PRC researchers and NIST researchers. Later, they heard from Dr. Fotinos Panagakos, director, clinical research relations and strategy for Colgate Palmolive Company and a member of the ADA Foundation Board of Directors.

Ms. Peinado said the conference sparked her interest in dental research and made her aware of the opportunities available for her to pursue the field. “I have no intention of letting my curiosity die out anytime soon,” she said.

“This event is a key component in the Foundation’s mission,” said Gene Wurth, ADAF executive director, who oversees PRC. “Ultimately, our goal is to improve patient care. In the medical and oral health arenas, better patient care results from the continuing education of the members of the profession.

“Better education results from better and innovative research and that research comes from the best and the brightest minds,” Mr. Wurth added. “This is our effort to identify and encourage those innovative minds now and to support their development so that they can contribute to our knowledge base for years to come.”