Global Health Nexus, Winter 2004

NYU Dentistry Boosts Minority Research Training Efforts with $100K NIH Grant

Responding to concerns about a chronic shortage of minority oral health researchers, the NIH, through its Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, has awarded the NYU College of Dentistry a grant of $100,000 to establish an intensive research training program for minority predoctoral dental students from NYU, Howard University, Tuskegee University, and the University of Puerto Rico. A group of faculty members from the four institutions is responsible for identifying and selecting student participants.

“Blacks and Hispanics have more untreated oral disease than the population as a whole, and are underrepresented as both dentists and dental faculty,” said principal investigator and program director Dr. Kathleen C. Kinnally, a Professor of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology at the NYU College of Dentistry.

“Targeted recruitment, training, and retention of minorities in health-care professions and research are critical to resolving this dilemma. Ultimately, greater representation of minorities in faculty positions should increase the number of role models, and positively impact the candidate pool of underrepresented minorities.”

The grant supports training for five students a year within the NYU College of Dentistry’s Bluestone Center for Clinical Research and in its basic science laboratories. Each student is assigned an NYU College of Dentistry faculty mentor and is responsible for preparing a research project culminating in a poster presentation at his or her college’s annual student research day. The first group of students completed their training in summer 2003.

Prior to receiving this grant, NYU Dentistry had already established close ties with the other universities participating in the program. The college has a partnership with the University of Puerto Rico School of Dentistry on both a pre- and a postdoctoral student exchange program and on three major NIH grants totaling over $10 million, and the two schools share a jointly appointed faculty member, Dr. Walter J. Psoter, an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology & Health Promotion.

Last year the college established a combined BA-DDS program with Tuskegee University — the first time that Tuskegee, a member of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, has collaborated on a BA-DDS program, and the first time that NYU Dentistry has done so with a Historically Black University. The college also has a program to provide epidemiology training and grant writing assistance to Howard University junior faculty.