Largest NIH grant for NYU will create research network in dental practices

04/04/05

New York University College of Dentistry has received a $26.7 million award from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to establish a regional "practice-based" research network (PBRN) over the next seven years. The innovative research approach - networking dental offices in research projects - will enable greater scientific rigor to be brought to "everyday" issues in the practice and delivery of oral healthcare.

This is one of the largest grants ever made by the NIDCR, and the largest NIH grant ever received by NYU.

Dr. Michael C. Alfano, dean of the NYU College of Dentistry, said "Dentists usually work as solo practitioners, not in groups like physicians. In addition, most dentists are not closely linked to hospitals with their related network of support systems that help facilitate clinical research in medicine.

"That is where the genius of a practice-based network comes in: the NYU project, known as the PEARL (Practitioners Engaged in Applied Research and Learning) Network, has an extremely large number of practitioners, and the largest and most diversified patient population in the nation, permitting us to knit these dentists together for research projects that can deliver powerful solutions to the day-to-day problems confronted in dental offices. It bridges the gap that has traditionally existed between practicing dentists and academia, and has the potential to transform the way dentistry is practiced. This award places NYU College of Dentistry in the vanguard of efforts to improve the practice of healthcare in the United States. "

Dr. Jonathan Ship, the PEARL Network's principal investigator and chair, said, "The PEARL Network seeks to organize, train, inspire, and facilitate a network of dental practitioners to conduct research of immediate relevance to the profession and the public. This is the first time that the NIH has allocated funding for clinical research that directly involves dental practitioners from study concept initiation through study completion."

Traditionally there has been a void in clinical dentistry, explained Dr. Ship. "Many dentists are frustrated by having to make clinical decisions everyday in practice that do not have a sufficient scientific basis. For example, "What should be the appropriate follow-up interval for a specific procedure or disease? Is it necessary to use a particular course of antibiotics? "Is an over-the-counter medication as effective as a prescription?" The NIDCR awarded three seven-year grants, totaling $75 million, to create three regional networks dedicated to expanding the evidence base in dentistry. The NYU College of Dentistry was selected to create and lead the regional network for the east coast of the United States. Each regional network will conduct approximately 15 to 20 short-term clinical trials over the next seven years, comparing the benefits of different dental procedures, dental materials, and prevention strategies under a range of patient and clinical conditions. The networks also will perform anonymous chart reviews, as allowed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), to generate data on disease, treatment trends, and the prevalence of less common oral conditions.

NYU's PEARL Network draws its strength from a distinguished team of NYU senior scientists, the Bluestone Center for Clinical Research (the largest center of its kind in any dental school in the world), a world-class data coordinating center (EMMES Corporation in Rockville, MD), the largest dental marketing and practice management firm in the world (Levin Group in Owens Mills, MD), and a broad network of investigators and consultants.

The PEARL Network is divided into four Cores, each of which is directed by a senior NYU dental faculty member, who is also a co-investigator:

  • The Recruitment, Retention, and Operations Core (Frederick A. Curro, DMD, PhD) ensures sufficient investigators for studies and data integrity.
  • The Training and Certification Core (Ananda P. Dasanayake, BDS, MPH, PhD) provides training and certification to every practitioner-investigator.
  • The Protocol Development Core (Van P. Thompson, DDS, PhD) will solicit ideas from practitioners and transform the ideas into protocols relevant to clinical practice.
  • The Information Dissemination Core (Page W. Caufield, DDS, PhD) will ensure the timely dissemination of research findings.

    Source: Eurekalert & others

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