Nonetheless, many dental schools and dental faculty still have little or no involvement with research or, more broadly, scholarship. Twenty percent of the dental schools received two-thirds of the research and training funds distributed by the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) in 1991. As described in Chapter 2, NIDR was created in 1948 to bolster the very limited research and research training capacity of dental schools as well as to conduct its own research program. It remains the major source of support for oral health research and for training of oral health researchers.
This chapter begins with a discussion of broad goals for dental schools. It then reviews basic data on funding sources, amounts, and targets of oral health research. Later sections discuss major issues and concerns, in particular, funding constraints and shortages of well-trained oral health researchers. The background papers by Greenspan and by Jeffcoat and Clark provide a selective overview of the current state of, and future prospects for, oral health science and technology and of the role of dental schools in technology transfer. The paper by Bader and Shugars focuses on outcomes and health services research.
As stated in Chapter 1, the committee strongly believes that dental education should be scientifically based and undertaken in an environment in which the creation and acquisition of new scientific and clinical knowledge are valued and vigorously pursued. The research standards for dental schools published by the Commission on Dental Accreditation support this goal (Table 5.1).
In addition to creating new knowledge, the research mission includes disseminating such knowledge, educating clinicians to critically assess scientific and technological innovations, and educating future researchers. Conceptualized somewhat differently, these dimensions include a mix of scholarly activities: discovery, integration, application, and teaching (Boyer, 1990; Bepko, 1991). However categorized, these elements of research and scholarship are linked by the broad common goal of improved oral health and should influence all elements of the dental school curriculum. Their scope is sufficiently broad that they offer opportunities for faculty contributions beyond the laboratory or clinical trial—important as those traditional venues of research are.
The creation or discovery of new knowledge is the heart of the university's research mission. Within the diverse components of