The University of Iowa College of Dentistry's oral health research training program has been continuously funded for over 35 years, preparing the next generation of researchers in oral, dental, and craniofacial science.
Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Continuously funded since 2013, the National Institute of Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research-supported (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research/National Institutes of Health-NIDCR/NIH) “University of Iowa Institutional Training Program in Oral Health Research” (a Ruth L. Kirschstein Interdisciplinary Research Training Award (T90) and combined Research Education Grant (R90)) was renewed for another five years with an award of $3,525,397. The T90/R90 is one of the chief funding mechanisms for supporting Iowa Dentistry PhD candidates and postdoctoral researchers. These researchers are  PhD candidates in Oral Science, postdoctoral researchers working with Iowa Dentistry's research faculty, or PhD candidates or postdoctoral researchers in other University of Iowa programs conducting oral health-related research. The T90/R90 program builds upon the successes of the previous NIDCR training program (T32) and the one before that (Dentist-Scientist program).

Steve Levy
Steven Levy

The 5-year training grant is led by director Steven Levy,  Wright-Bush-Shreves Endowed Professor of Research and professor in the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Epidemiology in the College of Public Health, and associate director Jeffrey A. Banas, director of the Iowa Institute of Oral Health Research and professor in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry. Other members of the leadership team are Azeez Butali, professor in the Department of Oral Pathology, Radiology, and Medicine; David Drake, professor in the Department of Endodontics; Susan McKernan, associate professor in the Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry; Hongli Sun, associate professor in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery; Karin Weber-Gasparoni, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry; and Xian Jin Xie, associate dean for research and director of the Division of Biostatistics and Computational Biology.

The interdisciplinary nature of the training program and faculty mentors is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the program.  Listed potential mentors come from 6 UI colleges (Dentistry, Medicine, Public Health, Pharmacy, Engineering, and Liberal Arts and Science) and current/recent trainees are from 5 (Dentistry, Medicine, Public Health, Pharmacy, and Engineering).  Trainees’ research spans the spectrum of translational levels from T0 (basic biomedical research) to T4 (translation to communities).

The main training grant components are financial support of trainees’ stipends and tuition, if applicable; limited research supply and travel costs; and trainees’ participation in several structured learning components.  Ongoing components are the 1) monthly Grant-Writing Workshop series, 2) bi-weekly Colloquium series, and 3) collegiate research seminar series.  New components being initiated in 2023 are the 1) Program on Research Rigor, 2) Interdisciplinary Research Mentor Training Program, and 3) Research Leadership Development Program.

Successful grant applications from trainees is a key metric that the NIDCR uses to assess the success of training programs. Since 2018, the training program has supported 6 trainees who went on the receive external grant funding from the NIH:  Aline Petrin (K01), Jennifer Sukalski (F31), Matthew Remy (F31), Jason Semprini (F31),  Tim Nguyen (F31), and Mason Sweat (F32).

 For the next five years, the grant will support 9 trainees per year:

  1. 4 U.S. non-dentist predoctoral trainees (to pursue their PhDs),
  2. 3 U.S. postdoctoral trainees (dentists or non-dentists), and
  3. 2 international dentists (to pursue PhD or do postdoctoral fellowships).

Please contact Steven Levy or Jeffrey A. Banas for additional information.