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National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research


In 1997 the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) unveiled its Strategic Plan, Shaping the Future. The driving forces behind our initial plan and this updated version remain the same – to adopt needed change, to identify and prioritize new opportunities for research, and to respond to the needs of the people we serve. In the same way that we initiated Shaping the Future, we embarked on updating the Strategic Plan mindful of the remarkable pace of continuing biological discoveries, and aware that we must do all we can to keep up the momentum, encourage young people in the pursuit of science, transform health professional education, and ensure that oral health research can benefit all people.


Our commitment to respond to the changing needs of the public is evident when we consider how the NIDCR has evolved. Created in 1948 as the third component of the NIH, the NIDCR was first named the National Institute of Dental Research. The driving force that launched the new Institute was concern over the nation’s military readiness; far too many otherwise healthy young recruits were rejected for service during War World II because they lacked six opposing teeth. More than 50 years later, tooth loss of this magnitude is rare among young people in the U.S. and remarkably lower overall. Yet much work remains to be done to eliminate oral diseases that keep people from being fully healthy. Today the pressing needs include understanding the complex genetic, environmental, nutritional, and behavioral factors that result in oral diseases and conditions; addressing the persistent disparities in health status; and carrying out the health promotion and outreach efforts needed to improve health.


This Strategic Plan addresses the myriad diseases and conditions that affect the oral cavity and craniofacial structures by outlining a course for the Institute to follow in the areas of research, research training, and communication of research results.



These and other emerging research advances are changing how oral health research is conducted. More than ever, research is not defined or confined by the boundaries of a single scientific area but is increasingly characterized by an eclectic mix of disciplines. Computer scientists, mathematicians and biologists together have formed the new discipline of bioinformatics – the use of mathematics, statistics and computing to model biological processes and ultimately solve biological problems. Biologists, engineers and clinicians are working together to fabricate living parts for the body from cells in the laboratory, creating the new field of tissue engineering. Protein biochemists have teamed with engineers to create “labs on a chip,” small enough to begin to pursue simultaneous monitoring of multiple substances in real time. The interplay among environmental, behavioral, nutritional, and genetic factors that underlie human health and disease has led to the creation of unique multi- and inter-disciplinary research teams. Recognizing this crucial need to ensure a diverse and adequately trained research workforce, the plan sets forth an aggressive agenda to enhance multidisciplinary career training and development.


As research progress increases, so does our responsibility to ensure that scientific knowledge is communicated clearly and effectively to all who need it. Thus, NIDCR recognizes the need to increase efforts to translate research findings into tangible results that will improve clinical care and to communicate science-based information to health professionals, professional organizations, and the public.


Improving the nation’s oral health is an ambitious goal, and NIDCR recognizes the importance of partnerships in achieving that goal. We also recognize the need to bring new partners to the oral health research enterprise from the broader scientific community, academia, the health professions, health voluntary organizations, industry and government. The creation of multidisciplinary research teams will require that we recruit new scientific disciplines to the field. Expanding the opportunities for research training and career development will require that we work closely with medical, graduate, public health and engineering schools as well as dental schools and dental and medical professional organizations. Enhancing our partnerships with both public and private sector organizations is equally important to realize our goal of promoting the timely transfer of knowledge and its implications for health to all audiences.


Our mission has remained the same since the day the Institute was created 55 years ago. We’ve come a long way, in terms of both scientific advances and improvements in the Nation’s oral health. To achieve our ultimate goal, we must take advantage of new scientific knowledge and tools, strengthen and expand partnerships, ensure that research advances are translated into useful technologies, and above all make sure that our scientific efforts benefit people.


Mission


The mission of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research is to improve oral, dental and craniofacial health through research, research training, and the dissemination of health information. We accomplish our mission by:



  • Performing and supporting basic and clinical research;


  • Conducting and funding research training and career development programs to ensure an adequate number of talented, well-prepared and diverse investigators;


  • Coordinating and assisting relevant research and research-related activities among all sectors of the research community;


  • Promoting the timely transfer of knowledge gained from research and its implications for health to the public, health professionals, researchers, and policy-makers.





School name:National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Address:9000 Rockville Pike
Zip & city:20892-2190 Maryland
Phone:(301) 496-4261
Web:http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/
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