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NIDCR to issue 2014-19 strategic plan

'Effectively balances' research needs, says ADA

April 07, 2014

By Craig Palmer, ADA News staff

Dr. Somerman: NIDCR director says strategic plan will be responsive to its constituencies.

Bethesda, Md.—The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research will unveil a five-year strategic plan for dental research late this spring. "The plan offers a clear and concise narrative of where today's research investments might yield tomorrow's clinical advances," said Dr. Martha J. Somerman, NIDCR director.

"Importantly, the plan seizes upon new research and training opportunities, particularly in harnessing diverse science to enable personalized classification and treatment of dental, oral and craniofacial health and disease," Dr. Somerman said.

"The aim throughout is to be responsive to our many constituencies, including the American Dental Association, and to actively advance the breadth, depth and diversity of dental, oral and craniofacial research, training and career development."

The Association commended the NIDCR "for drafting a plan that effectively balances the research needs of dentists with those of patients, public health agencies and the many other stakeholders in our health care system."

"The ADA is pleased and impressed that all major areas important to our members have been addressed in the draft strategic plan,
including public health issues related to social, behavioral and biological determinants of oral and dental disease and, importantly, the advancement of research that strengthens the evidence-based foundation of dental care," the Association said in Jan. 30 comments to the NIDCR with a cover letter signed by Dr. Charles Norman, ADA president, and Dr. Kathleen O'Loughlin, executive director.

The NIDCR, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, provides the lion's share of funding for research to improve dental, oral and craniofacial health with an enacted fiscal year 2014 budget of $397.102 million.

The administration's proposed FY 2015 budget for the NIDCR is $397.131 million.

Dr. Somerman told the ADA News that the next strategic plan to guide NIDCR 2014-19 research efforts will be available free of charge for downloading at the institute's website when it is released this spring.

The strategic plan includes four goals and several objectives that provide continuity in key areas, Dr. Somerman said.

Let science drive

We will support the best basic, translational, clinical and community-based research to build a strong evidence base in dental, oral and craniofacial health. Doing so will help bridge the gap between research and health care practice for improved human health. Our first strategic goal affirms the basic tenet that rigor and reproducibility of experimental design and results are essential elements of scientific investigation.

Enable precise and personalized oral health care

As trusted providers of health care, dentists and physicians have long recognized variations among patients and have provided personalized care based on the many biological and behavioral components that shape health. NIDCR-supported research can help enhance personalized health care in two ways. We will encourage better integration between health-related researchers and health care providers, and we will work to identify influences on oral health at the molecular level through biomarker discovery and the development of risk-assessment tools.

Address oral health disparities

NIDCR's involvement in oral health disparities research is a long-term, deliberate investment. It focuses on building a foundation of knowledge that has had, and will continue to have, a measurable impact on clinical practice, public policy and the oral health of many of the nation's most vulnerable populations. Although our commitment to eliminating oral health disparities is steadfast, it will continue to take time to reach fruition. This strategic goal signifies the importance of sustained effort that requires collaboration with many partners in government and industry and with a range of organizations and individuals in communities.

Engage a diverse oral health research workforce

Our fourth strategic goal applies to all areas of this strategic plan. It articulates the notion that people—scientists and practitioners, individuals and communities—are the lifeblood of biomedical research. Innovation and problem-solving require a workforce that is multidisciplinary and inclusive of scientists from diverse backgrounds and life experiences. Promoting education, scholarship and training at all levels and types of institutions—from students to laboratory investigators to health care providers—helps ensure that evidence-based care reaches patients and communities. Novel and collaborative strategies to engage a diverse oral health research workforce and to disseminate evidence-based information will guide us through the highly dynamic landscape of 21st century biomedicine.