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Association launches new ADA Science & Research Institute

Institute will focus on ‘improving lives through oral health, science and research’

March 12, 2020

By Mary Beth Versaci

ADA Science & Research Institute logo
The American Dental Association launched the new ADA Science & Research Institute LLC on Jan. 1, bringing together the Science Institute in Chicago and research group in Gaithersburg, Maryland, that previously reported to the ADA Foundation.

The formation of the new subsidiary follows a Board of Trustees vote in June 2019 to narrow the focus of the foundation to science and research and dedicate more resources to evidence-based dentistry and the health of the public.

Photo of Dr. Raymond Cohlmia
Dr. Cohlmia
"We all are very excited about the launch of the American Dental Association Science & Research Institute," said Dr. Raymond Cohlmia, chair of the institute's Board of Directors and dean of the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry. "ADASRI is about discovery, knowledge and education. This establishment demonstrates our unwavering support for improving lives through oral health, science and research."

The board met for the first time Jan. 22-23 at ADA Headquarters in Chicago, where members developed a vision statement and formed committees. The group will meet again April 22 to work on finalizing a strategic plan, among other actions.

"The board was created based on expertise," said Dr. Marcelo Araujo, Ph.D., CEO of the institute and foundation and chief science officer of the ADA. "It is a very diverse board in terms of knowledge and background."

The institute is made up of five departments: Innovation & Technology Research, based in Maryland, and Research & Laboratories, Evidence Synthesis & Translation Research, Science Governance and Science Projects, all based in Chicago. These departments will position the institute to focus on the ADA's core value of being a science- and evidence-based organization.

"The institute will allow the ADA to continue supporting that core value and expanding the work that we do in science in different areas, from basic research all the way to translation to clinical practice, and making scientific information available to our members," Dr. Araujo said.

The institute also supports the ADA's Common Ground 2025 strategic plan, which states "the ADA will be the preeminent driver of trusted oral health information for the public and profession."

Photo of Dr. Marcelo Araujo
Dr. Araujo

"The main goal is to continue supporting science in a broader aspect, in a cross-disciplinary way, to open opportunities for more funding from external agencies, including government and industry," Dr. Araujo said.

Researchers with the Department of Innovation & Technology Research have already been awarded a federal grant from the National Institutes of Health to combat osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare disease characterized by bone fragility. The two-year grant totaling $275,000 comes from the NIH's National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.

This is not only the first grant awarded to a scientist of the recently created subsidiary, but it also is the first major fund the ADA has received from an NIH institute focused on systemic diseases.

Researchers will use the grant to develop new strategies for personalized osteogenesis imperfecta treatment decisions and to understand pathogenic mechanisms involved in the disease via organ-on-a-chip technology, said Styliani (Stella) Alimperti, Ph.D., the team's principal investigator and an Innovation & Technology Research project leader.

Dr. Alimperti said she hopes their efforts will result in the discovery of the first-ever treatment for osteogenesis imperfecta and possibly new treatments for bone diseases such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and bone cancer.

"The next three years will be pivotal to set the presence of the ADASRI in the research community and establish great collaborations," Dr. Cohlmia said. "The board is committed to support the organization and set strong directions that will benefit ADA members and the public."

To learn more about the institute, visit ADA.org/SRI.