Educators pursue NIH grants

May 27, 2005
ADEA hosts workshop aimed at helping faculty secure grants.

ADEA/AADR/NIDCR Workshop Prepares Faculty to Compete for NIH Grants

On April 18-19, 2005, the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) co-sponsored a workshop to help tenure-track and recently tenured dental faculty compete for grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). One hundred and twenty-five faculty members from forty-seven U.S. academic dental institutions participated in this opportunity to learn directly from NIH staff how to develop and submit successful proposals. The event was cosponsored with the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) and the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) and was held at NIH headquarters in Bethesda, MD.

"The NIDCR is a major supporter of the vital research being done in academic dental institutions across the country," said Dr. Richard Valachovic, ADEA Executive Director. "It is therefore essential that dental faculty members be both well informed about the grants process and up-to-date on the NIDCR's current funding priorities."

The two-day workshop began with an overview of NIDCR priorities and strategic directions, presented by Dr. Lawrence Tabak, Director, NIDCR. Dr. Tabak explained how NIDCR scientists are using the latest molecular and genetic tools to conduct research related to craniofacial, oral, and dental health and disease, including such areas as oral cancer, chronic pain, infectious diseases, salivary gland function and dysfunction, the genetics of craniofacial development, biomimetics and tissue engineering, and the relationship between oral and systemic health. He challenged workshop participants to contribute to these exciting discoveries. A lively question and answer session with Dr. Tabak followed his presentation.

Also on the first day, the NIDCR Grants Management Staff made a detailed presentation on the "Fundamentals of the NIH Grants Process," and Dr. Dushanka Kleinman, Assistant Director for Roadmap, Office of the NIH Director, reviewed the current progress of the NIH Roadmap. The day ended with a panel of NIDCR researchers discussing four current projects: the NIDCR/CDD Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Data Resource Center; the NIDCR/NIH Oral Cancer Tissue Array; the NIDCR Oral Microbe Microarray Initiative; and the NIH Human and Mouse Genotyping Service.

The workshop concluded on the second day with a grants writing workshop, which covered how to develop a fundable idea, identifying the agency and the funding mechanism that fit your idea, and writing a successful proposal.

Participants praised the workshop for the insights it provided into the grant writing process as well as the connection it provided with faculty in other universities.

"I found that we are all facing the same issues," said Nader A. Nadershahi, D.D.S., M.B.A., University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, "and that through collaboration and support, we can help each other succeed and ultimately continue strengthening the foundation of science as it relates to oral health care."

Dr. Nadershahi also took away lessons for his home institution.

"I think it will be important to develop a stronger internal program to support and mentor individuals who are starting their scholarly efforts," he said. "This would include people who are willing to provide critical reviews of grant applications and support throughout the process. I feel that I am also better prepared to help new faculty understand and identify opportunities in all of the NIDCR grant offerings."

The American Dental Education Association (ADEA) is the leading national organization for dental education. Its members include all U.S. and Canadian dental schools, advanced dental education programs, allied dental education programs, corporations, faculty, and students. The mission of ADEA is to lead individuals and institutions of the dental education community to address contemporary issues influencing education, research, and the delivery of oral health care for the health of the public. ADEA's activities encompass a wide range of research, advocacy, faculty development, meetings, and communications, as well as the dental school admissions services AADSAS and PASS and the Journal of Dental Education.