ECU dental school partners with UF on practice-based research grant

The East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine and the University of Florida College of Dentistry received a five-year, $3.7 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) to establish an academic multidisciplinary practice-based research network within and between their respective dental schools.

(Photo by Rhett Butler)

Co-principal investigators Dr. Daniel W. McNeilchair of the UF Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Science and the Parker E. Mahan Endowed Professor, and Dr. David W. Paquette, professor and chair of the ECU dental school’s Department of Surgical Sciences, along with their research teams, will collaborate on the project as part of the NIDCR’s Practice-Based Research Integrating Multidisciplinary Experiences in Dental Schools, or PRIMED, initiative to include research and science as an integral part of dental education and practice to prepare current and future dentists to be involved in practice-based clinical research.

“We are excited about this partnership because it draws on the core missions and research strengths of both school and will provide our dental students beneficial multidisciplinary research experiences while they are in school,” said Dr. Greg Chadwick, dean of the ECU School of Dental Medicine. “This collaboration allows us to add to the evidence that research is a critical component of dental education and practice.

Working alongside the University of Florida College of Dentistry will leverage our ability to advance our research activities and also draw upon our school’s diverse dental student and patient populations.”

McNeil, Paquette and the two institutions will embark on the five-year project, Development of Opportunities for Research (DOOR) in Dental Schools: Future Academic Interdisciplinary Workforce and Collaborators for the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network, from 2023-2028 to develop and test an integrated, multi-level and interdisciplinary program featuring training in clinical research skills, team-based science, mentoring and interdisciplinary collaboration, encompassing two clinical research studies with dental patients, one on diabetes detection and the other on acute/chronic pain.

“We are very excited about this NIDCR U01 research award and collaboration with UF. The project builds on the ECU School of Dental Medicine’s public mission of ‘developing leaders for the dental profession with a passion to care for the underserved and improve the health of North Carolina and the nation,’” Paquette said. “We anticipate that this grant will be transformative for our school’s research culture in providing formal, in-depth training and experiences in clinical and practice-based research for our dental students, residents and clinical faculty at Ross Hall and our community service learning centers across North Carolina.”

The partnership between UFCD, a research-intensive college with a 50-year history of dental education, and ECU, a newer dental school with a growing research focus that welcomed its first class of dental students in 2011, serves as a collaborative model that can be replicated in other U.S. dental schools and health education programs, making a positive impact on public health through a more research-informed and evidence-based workforce.

“This partnership between UF and ECU is an exceptional opportunity that promises to benefit both institutions, the students and patients we serve,” McNeil said. “Our goal is ‘culture change’ to include research and science as an essential part of dental education and practice. With institutional support from the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute and the UF Academic Health Center, this five-year grant provides additional training for dental students, residents and clinical faculty, and is a unique opportunity to further infuse research and a scientific approach into oral healthcare, the training of dental students and resident training, and patient care of dental patients.”

(Photo by Rhett Butler)