Western Oral Research Consortium: Career Development

Investigator: John Greenspan, BDS, PhD
Sponsor: NIH National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

Location(s): United States


This program offers a unique and innovative approach to the development of investigators and faculty members devoted or oral health research. The institutions involved represent a new Western US regional consortium that includes both research-intensive and less research-intensive private and state-supported dental schools, some within major research-oriented academic health science centers and one lacking such an environment. We aim to offer career development opportunities that: 1) build on the integrated DDS/PhD/specialty and similar programs; 2) offer Scholar Development (postdoctoral level) mentored training in a full range of biomedical, social and behavior science options; 3) provide protected-time Faculty Transition independent investigator development options in that same range of subjects; 4) develop a new model for cross-disciplinary mentoring through mentoring partnerships within and between participating schools; 5) develop new comprehensive oral research experiences in key areas, such as clinical research, evidenced-based care, informatics, scientific team experiences, and genomics; 6) provide cross-institutional infrastructure for the constituent trainee groups and mentors participating in this program; and 7) implement evaluation tools to allow program evolution to meet the changing needs of new generations of participants. The overall outcome we seek to promote broad perspectives on dental, craniofacial and oral health research, provide key tools needed by trainees, and provide a scientifically rigorous foundation of the conduct of research. WEORC will be complementary to and build on several existing and new programs. These include: the pending T32 UCSF COHORT and its equivalent at UW; the recently funded Centers of Discovery at UCSF and UW; other international-standard Centers and Program Projects: and a broadly funded research portfolio at the participating schools. We will develop networking experiences within the diverse consortium members to take full advantage of WEORC's thrust areas. The program unites a Director and site co-directors with extensive research, training and leadership experience, and constructs a multi-track training scaffold that promotes broad cross-disciplinary experiences for our trainees, while assuring that they continue to be provided with rigorous scientific foundations. Outstanding scientific and clinical mentors will guide each trainee selected for the component programs. This permits an integrated training and investigator-development experience that spans postdoctoral to independent investigator phases of the career spectrum for oral health researchers and future leaders in academic dentistry. The program will include components that meet the needs for exploration, skill expansion and multidisciplinary team working by postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. Internal and external advisory groups will monitor the program on a regular basis. Thus, we will meet the needs of the trainees and the oral health research community, providing training that assures continuing access to cutting edge science, state-of-the-art research tools, and the innovative, cross-disciplinary, team-based perspectives required by today's complex scientific problems.