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NYU College of Dentistry Boosts Minority Researcher Training Efforts with $100K Grant from the NIH

Participants in the Minority Research Training Program. From left: Julio Carrion and Luis Cruz, University of Puerto Rico, School of Dentistry; Jan P. Gonzales, NYUCD (originally from University of Puerto Rico); and Hilsha Buxo, University of Puerto Rico.
Responding to concerns about a chronic shortage of minority oral health researchers, the National Institutes of Health, through its Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, has awarded the New York University College of Dentistry a grant of $100,000 to establish an intensive research training program for minority predoctoral dental students from NYU, Howard University, Tuskegee University, and the University of Puerto Rico. A group of faculty members from the four institutions is responsible for identifying and selecting student participants.

“Blacks and Hispanics have more untreated oral disease than the population as a whole and are underrepresented as both dentists and dental faculty,” said principal investigator and program director Dr. Kathleen C. Kinnally, a professor of basic science and craniofacial biology at the NYU College of Dentistry.

The grant supports training for five students a year within the NYU College of Dentistry’s Bluestone Center for Clinical Research and in its basic science laboratories. Each student is assigned an NYU College of Dentistry faculty mentor and is responsible for preparing a research project culminating in a poster presentation at his or her college’s annual student research day. The first group of students completed their training in summer 2003.

“Targeted recruitment, training, and retention of minorities in healthcare professions and research are critical to resolving this dilemma. Ultimately, greater representation of minorities in faculty positions should increase the number of role models, and positively impact the candidate pool of underrepresented minorities,” said Dr. Kinnally.

Prior to receiving this grant, the NYU College of Dentistry had already established close ties with the other universities participating in the program. The college has a partnership with the University of Puerto Rico School of Dentistry on both a pre-and a postdoctoral student exchange program and on three major NIH grants totaling over $10 million, and the two schools share a jointly-appointed faculty member, Dr. Walter J. Psoter, an assistant professor of epidemiology and health promotion.

And last year the college established a combined B.A.-D.D.S. program with Tuskegee University -- the first time that Tuskegee, a member of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, has collaborated on a B.A.-D.D.S. program, and the first time that the NYU College of Dentistry has done so with a Historically Black University. The college also has a program to provide epidemiology training and grant writing assistance to Howard University junior faculty.

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