The School of Dentistry has announced the formation of the Center for Global Oral Health, a new organization designed to promote collaborations in dental research and education, including faculty and student exchanges, with partners around the world.
The center will be headed by Timothy A. DeRouen, professor of oral health sciences in the School of Dentistry and of biostatistics in the School of Public Health. He was interim dean of the School of Dentistry from 2011 to 2012.
“We’ll be looking for more opportunities to work with other institutions and countries, and for more opportunities for our faculty as well,” DeRouen said. “The idea is to enhance what we do, and increase the range of possibilities through research and education.”
The School of Dentistry is already an active international player in oral health, with collaborations and interactions involving more than 40 other countries. Faculty members conduct dozens of international research partnerships and lecture abroad, while dental students and professionals from around the world visit Seattle.
Many come here for the school’s Summer Institute in Clinical Dental Research Methods, which DeRouen
founded in 1992 and has directed ever since. The Summer Institute has drawn nearly 500 students from more than 40 other countries, along with 30 states in this country.
DeRouen said he anticipates establishing working ties between the new center and the Global Oral Health Inequalities Research Network of the International Association for Dental Research. He also expects to be working with the Global Oral Health Interest Group of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health, as well as the UW’s Department of Global Health, in which DeRouen recently received a joint faculty appointment. Dr. King Holmes, the department’s William H. Foege Chair and Professor, has called the new center “an exciting initiative.”
DeRouen’s name is already well established in oral health research circles. Before becoming interim dean of dentistry at the UW, he was the school’s executive associate dean for research and academic affairs. He also directed the school’s Northwest PRECEDENT regional practice-based research network. This year, he will become president-elect of the American Association for Dental Research, and then president in 2014.
“Tim DeRouen has been an outstanding leader in oral health research and education,” said UW School of
Dentistry Dean Joel Berg. “I believe that he is uniquely suited to build on our strong tradition in this field and to further enhance the UW’s standing in the international oral health community.”
The Center for Global Oral Health will oversee existing activities such as the Summer Institute, along with a clinical, behavioral and public health research training collaboration with several universities in Thailand. The latter program is funded by a training grant from the Fogarty International Center of the National Institutes of Health. The agenda also encompasses a study of orofacial clefts in Thailand, proposals for oral health disparities research in Peru, and ongoing student exchange programs in Chile, Taiwan and Thailand.
DeRouen said that the Center for Global Oral Health already has drawn interest from several leading School of Dentistry faculty researchers, who have been invited to join as affiliates. They include Berg, who is also the current president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and Peter Milgrom, who in 2012 received the American Dental Association’s Norton M. Ross Award for Excellence in Clinical Research, the association’s highest such honor.