Global Health Nexus, Winter 2003

Message from the Dean

Michael C. Alfano, DMD, PhD
New York University College of Dentistry

What is the best way to serve the dental profession and the society in which we live? At NYU Dentistry our answer to this question is to make our College the dental institution in the world with the greatest impact on oral health education, innovation, and outreach. Our quest to reconceptualize NYU Dentistry finds us transforming our facilities, our academic programs, and our relationship with the practicing profession in a variety of exciting and innovative ways. We have already committed $22 million for capital projects that are dramatically enhancing the quality of life and learning on our campus, including several new facilities featured in this issue. The task before us is to raise an additional $28 million to complete our facilities agenda and to develop new programs and technologies commensurate with our vision.

Recently we sent a copy of our handsome new Capital Campaign brochure,Transformations: Our Building, Our College, Our Profession, to all NYU dental alumni throughout the world. Transformations outlines our case for raising the additional funds needed for NYU Dentistry to achieve its objectives, among them the creation of a strong, two-way bridge between medicine and dentistry.

Developing New Therapies, New Partnerships, and New Practice Paradigms

This issue of Global Health Nexus, Part Two in our “Discovery” series, takes a close look at the solid clinical research infrastructures we have put in place to permit investigators to work together to pursue promising pathways in oral and systemic health and well- being. In the pages that follow, you will learn about some of the new patient-oriented clinical research being conducted at the College. Examples include investigations into improved oral health for HIV-positive women, new diagnostic procedures and treatments for oral lesions, and improved techniques for achieving optimally aesthetic results with dental implants.

Two premier clinical facilities, the Bluestone Center for Clinical Research (BCCR) and the Rosenthal Institute for Aesthetic Dentistry, both featured in this issue, provide unparalleled environments in which first-rate researchers and clinicians are able to pool and harness their expertise to create possibilities yet unseen.

NYU Dentistry's M.S. Program in Clinical Research, which has as its mandate to train tomorrow’s leaders in clinical research, is also featured in this issue, And you will notice that we have expanded our “International Partners in Health” section to include international research collaborations, a move that reinforces NYU Dentistry’s commitment to the creation of a global community of knowledge.

I am especially proud to call your attention to a wonderful guest editorial entitled “Clinical Research: The Time Is Now,” by Dr. Dominick P. DePaola, President and CEO of The Forsyth Institute. A Past-President of the ADEA, a member of the National Advisory Council of the NIDCR, and a former Dean of three dental schools, Dr. DePaola consistently offers penetrating and provocative insights into dental education, research, and practice. I’m confident that you will find his article compelling.

Bioterrorism and Catastrophe Response Task Force Established

Closer to home, I am pleased to report that NYU Dentistry is part of the new, federally funded Catastrophe Preparedness and Response Center at NYU, which has been established with a $7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. It is a point of pride that the idea for the Center grew out of a proposal submitted by NYU Dentistry six months before September 11, 2001, to establish an NYU Center on Catastrophic Events. The goal of the new Center is to work closely with New York City and State, as well as the federal government, to look beyond the terrorist attacks and advise on how to best prepare for future emergencies, including the possibility of biowarfare.

In support of these goals, NYU Dentistry has established an on-site Bioterrorism and Catastrophe Response Task Force, led by Dr. Dianne Rekow. Task Force initiatives focus on adopting an integrated approach to intervention, facilitating training as “first responders” for dental professionals, communicating in a timely and reliable manner to the public, enabling rapid distribution of medical supplies, conducting research to help detect a biological weapon before it becomes a catastrophe and creating an emergency response plan for NYU Dentistry. As part of the effort to raise awareness of the potential role of dentists in bioterrorism preparedness, I recently sent every NYU Dentistry graduate a copy of the AMA’s updated Quick Reference Guide to Biological Weapons.

Things are also moving ahead at the national level. The Journal of the Academy of General Dentistry has devoted three issues to this topic, and the ADA News recently featured a cover story on terrorism preparedness. In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the ADA are planning to cosponsor a Consensus Conference on Terrorism Preparedness in March, and members of the NYU Dentistry Bioterrorism and Catastrophe Response Task Force have been invited to participate.

On all these fronts, NYU Dentistry is working diligently to foster strategic collaborations within and beyond the dental community to make our world a healthier, safer, better world in which to live.