The primary objective of this program is to provide short-term (10 weeks) research training experience for six talented college undergraduate students in the area of oral and craniofacial health and disease. The long- range goal is to increase the number of such students pursuing advanced degree(s) and research training in oral, dental and craniofacial biology through the interest generated by exposure to a broad spectrum of research activities in this area. The Program Faculty have been selected on the basis of their active research programs in the areas of periodontal diseases, oral infectious diseases, craniofacial development, oral cancer biology and oral microbiology. Some faculty also engage in clinical and community-based oral health research on oral-systemic diseases that disproportionately affect African Americans, including oral cancer, periodontal diseases, early childhood caries and the oral disease burden of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Students in the program will become intimately involved in ongoing projects in one of the participating laboratories. They will be exposed to essential aspects of conducting basic and clinical research related to oral health and disease. Students also will participate in a seminar series that features cutting-edge topics in biological research with a specific focus on topics related to oral and craniofacial biology. In addition, the seminar series will provide a fundamental knowledge base in laboratory safety and responsible conduct of research. The proposed training program also will expose the students to cutting-edge clinical dentistry, diagnostics and patient-oriented research. At the conclusion of the training period, the students will prepare a written paper and give an oral presentation on their project to an audience of fellow students, mentors, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. They will be encouraged to return to campus in November to present their research at a university-wide annual research day. The program will be evaluated at the end of each year using a combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches, including analysis of the applicant pool data and recruitment methods, exit interviews and surveys with the students, and formal and informal feedback from the mentors. Additionally, students'career choices and progress will be tracked for a minimum of 10 years by yearly contact with the participants.
The goal of this program is to attract talented undergraduate college students into careers in oral, dental and craniofacial sciences, particularly fields of relevance to the NIDCR. This is expected to increase the supply of qualified investigators who are studying oral, dental and craniofacial diseases. Increasing the work force in these fields will result in an enhanced capacity to address oral health-related disease and improve the quality of oral health care nationwide.
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