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Release: Aug. 20, 1999

UI wins $10 million federal grant to establish new oral health research center

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa is one of only six institutions nationwide to receive a $10 million grant aimed at fostering interdisciplinary oral health research. The award from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) will establish a Comprehensive Oral Health Research Center of Discovery at the UI.

The new center will focus on causes, diagnosis, effects and treatment of craniofacial anomalies like cleft lip and palate, targeting projects that range from the genetics of these disorders to the ways in which they affect children’s behavior and adjustment. It will promote collaborative projects that seek new treatments and will establish a clinical resources core to help investigators use innovative craniofacial imaging techniques.

Jeff Murray, M.D., UI professor of pediatrics and pediatric dentistry, will direct the center. John Keller, Ph.D., professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery, will co-direct.

The NIDCR — one of the National Institutes of Health based in Bethesda, Md. — has a long history of supporting research at the UI College of Dentistry, which is among the nation’s top dental schools in total NIDCR funding.

"This most recent grant is a testament to the strength of our research programs, many of which were developed through NIDCR support," said David Johnsen, D.D.S., dean of the college. "We are grateful for this opportunity to build on our accomplishments and to continue our strong interdisciplinary research activities with the UI College of Medicine and other units of the university."

The new grant program recognizes the importance of interdisciplinary research, as well as the frequent need to view disorders of the mouth in relation to other types of diseases. Each of the funded centers will build dynamic research and education programs that focus on particular concerns, including problems like inflammation and oral cancer.

The UI center will support development of five research cores, seven major research projects, two technology transfer projects and four pilot studies. It will involve dozens of UI faculty and staff from three colleges and 17 academic departments, as well as collaborating researchers at Northwestern University, the University of Pittsburgh, Ohio State University and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.

The competitive grant process drew applications from 21 institutions. Each of the six centers funded will receive $1.5 million in direct costs for the first year of the five-year grant. Additional awards of approximately $1.5 million will follow each year of the grant period.

In addition to the UI, other schools funded are the University of California at San Francisco, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the University of Washington in Seattle, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Pittsburgh.