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DMD and Master's in Clinical Research Training Dual Degree Program

Sponsored by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health
Project Period: August 1, 2009 – July 31, 2014

Project Narrative

There is increased need for dentist scholars that can promote progress in biomedical research and develop innovative and effective strategies to take care of the oral health needs of the population. It is also increasingly important that dual degree training is needed to ensure a continuous supply of dentists pursuing an academic career and bringing scientific advances to solving clinical problems. The next generation of dentist scholars should address the investigation of oral diseases in a holistic framework.


The long-term goal of this joint DMD and Master's in Clinical Research Training (DMD-MCRT) program is to train dentist scholars capable of conducting clinical and translational research that focuses on investigating oral health problems at the individual, family, and community levels. A unique training program has been proposed that utilizes the NIH road map initiatives to prepare dentists to function in interdisciplinary research teams of the future.

The training capitalizes on strengths of the School of Dental Medicine that has restructured its curriculum to include evidence based principles, critical thinking, and early clinical experiences; partnering with the School of Medicine to include an established Master's degree in Clinical Research that has been highly successful in training health professionals and K12 scholars; and the collaborations among participating faculty in CWRU's NIH-funded Clinical and Translational Science Center (CTSC). The trainees will engage in five years of training, with a year off between junior and senior DMD year for graduate research training. The specific aims of the training are: (1) a biological, behavioral, and environmental approach to investigating oral health problems in diverse populations; (2) working in inter- and multi-disciplinary teams that promote the dental scholar as an integral part of the health care team; (3) provide leadership skills to communicate and disseminate research findings at both the local and national levels.

The trainees will undergo a structured and rigorous Master's program that consists of core didactic curriculum, research rotations and thesis, and oral health seminar series. Additional training activities include research retreats, seminars, participation in local and national meetings, and association with other CWRU centers. This training grant will provide one year of support to 15 dual degree trainees over the five year grant period, admitting three trainees each year for five years. It is critical to develop the next generation of dentist scholars who are capable of conducting independent innovative clinical research to solve complex oral health problems that can result in early translation of findings to relevant populations, and to address the national shortage in dentists pursuing academic research careers.

Project Team

Suchitra Nelson, PhD – Department of Community Dentistry

Dr. Suchitra Nelson

Dr. Suchitra Nelson, PhD 
Principal Investigator