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NIDCR awards grant and changes structure, name of PBRNs

May 07, 2012

By Jean Williams, ADA News staff

Dr. Gilbert

The investigative union of practicing dentists and academic scientists known as practice-based research networks has a new official name and structure and a $66.8 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

The NIDCR seven-year grant consolidates the initiative into a national effort now called the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network.

“A national coordinating center streamlines the network structure for greater financial and administrative efficiency,” said Dr. Martha Somerman, NIDCR director. “The national structure also should free those at the regional networks to focus almost solely on research, so it’s an excellent opportunity for everyone.”

NIDCR first launched dental practice-based research networks in 2005 to provide practitioners with an opportunity to propose and participate in research studies addressing oral health care. Intended to expand the profession’s evidence base, the studies are conducted in dental offices with consenting patients.

NDPBRN is headquartered at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry. The new grant completes a transition from three regional networks that NIDCR supported under separate principal investigators, including one at UAB School of Dentistry.

“This is the nation’s network,” said principal investigator Dr. Gregg Gilbert, chair of the department of general dental sciences at University of Alabama at Birmingham. “This can become a precious national resource for our profession and our patients. We aim to improve the nation’s oral health by improving the knowledge base for clinical decision-making and moving the latest evidence into routine care. We are so fortunate that NIDCR has invested in our profession.”

Competition for the new grant was limited to the three regional programs, and, in a recent announcement from NIDCR, the Alabama site was selected to lead the effort nationally. Under Dr. Gilbert, UAB will serve as the national administrative hub for six smaller regional hubs. In addition to the Birmingham location are hubs in Rochester, N.Y.; Gainesville, Fla.; Minneapolis; San Antonio; and Portland, Ore.

Forthcoming plans for NDPBRN include expansion to 5,000 participating practitioners and greater participation from dental specialists and community clinics.

To enroll, visit and follow the instructions. Practitioners who previously participated in Dental PBRN, Practitioners Engaged in Applied Research and Learning or Northwest Practice-Based Research Collaborative in Evidence-Based Dentistry networks should re-enroll due to revised enrollment questions and the need to update information.

For more information, visit and search for National Dental Practice-Based Research Network.