Between 2000 and 2004, the number of NYUCD students participating
in national and regional research competitions grew from approximately
15 to over 100, a more than 600 percent increase. This dramatic
rise is attributable to a convergence of scientific and economic
trends and to a fresh emphasis on the importance of student research
as part of dental education.
According to Associate Dean for Research Dr. Louis Terracio, whose
arrival in 2000 spurred an overall surge in research activity, "Scientific
necessity and economic opportunity have combined to create a vibrant
student research culture. Genome mapping has led to a demand for
researchers trained to uncover genetic factors contributing to oral
and craniofacial disease, which, in turn, leads more students to
consider research as a viable career.
"At the same time, the growth in NIH-funded faculty research has
generated lots of excitement among students because professors who
bring in significant grants also take time to share their know-how
and help students learn the whole research process, from grant-writing
through presenting results at scientific meetings."
In fact, there has been a tenfold increase in the number of students
enrolled in NYUCD's Master's Degree and one-year certificate programs
in Clinical Research -- from two at the programs' founding in 2001
to 22 today. And the demand for clinical researchers continues to
grow; industry expects to employ over 50,000 clinical investigators
this year, up from 33,000 in 2000, according to CenterWatch, a clinical
"Complementing this trend are our NIH-funded faculty, who inspire
students to pursue research in their particular areas of expertise,
including, for example, why some communities have higher oral cancer
rates; how genetic profiling may identify one's risk for developing
caries; and how turning apoptosis (cell death) on and off affects
cancer and heart disease progression," Dr. Terracio explained.
Students have research opportunities under the tutelage of such
faculty as Dr. Ralph Katz, Professor and Chair of the Department
of Epidemiology & Health Promotion, who directs NYUCD's $8.3 million
Oral Cancer Disparities Research Center grant; Dr. Kathleen Kinnally,
Professor of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology, who has received
$2.5 million in apoptosis research funding; Dr. Peter Sacks, Professor
of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology, who leads a $1 million
dollar-plus study of why precancerous cells become cancer; and Associate
Professor of Basic Science and Craniofacial Biology Dr. Yihong Li,
a co-investigator on a $1 million-plus grant to develop a DNA profile
of oral bacteria in young children with severe caries. And now students
will be able to participate in the recently awarded $26.7 million
Practice-Based Research Network.
While a private practice career remains most graduates' goal, a
growing number are considering combining research with practice.
"I've learned there are more options beyond the traditional career
path most dental school graduates pursue," said Dr. Carla Desarkissian,
a 2001 DDS graduate who went on to complete the MS in Clinical Research
program last year in preparation for a career combining private
practice and teaching.
Dr. Ryan McCafferty, who received his MS in Clinical Research two
years ago, said the program inspired him to carve out a particular
niche as an endodontist. "An endodontist with a master's degree
in clinical research is a valuable commodity," said Dr. McCafferty,
a 2005 graduate of the Advanced Education Program in Endodontics.
"I don't think anyone else in the country is pursuing this career
track. It opens up more options for me; helps me as a practitioner
by empowering me to apply data more intelligently to patient care;
helps my career in academia, where an advanced degree is essential;
and is great for my research career, since most people in the field
don't have on-the-job training."
Recent Student Research Award Highlights
2005 American Association for Dental Research Student Research
Four NYUCD fellowship winners.
2004 AADR Student Research Fellowship Award
Cell-cell Recognition and Sorting in an In Vitro Multistage Carcinogenesis
Model for Oral Cancer
2003 American College of Prosthodontics John J. Sharry National
Comparison of Bond Strength of a Pressed Ceramic to Metal vs. Feldspathic
Porcelain Fused to Metal
2003 ACP Table Clinic Award
In Vivo Correlation of Non-Carious Cervical Lesions and Occlusal
Marginal Fit of Lucite Glass Pressable Ceramic Restorations and
Ceramic Pressed to Metal Restorations
2003 American Dental Association/Dentsply Student Clinician
Program Basic Science and Research Achievement Award -- First Place
Chia-Yu Sherry Ku
Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis Analysis of 16S rDNA Amplicon
Mobility of Oral Bacteria
2001-2005 Greater New York Dental Meeting
Eleven student research award winners.