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NIH 1998 Almanac/The Organization/NIDR/      

National Institute of Dental Research : Research Programs


Division of Extramural Research

NIDR is the primary sponsor of dental, oral, craniofacial research and research training. Through its Divison of Extramural Research, the institute provides funds outside its intramural laboratories and clinics in Bethesda. Funds are made available in the form of grants, cooperative agreements and contracts which support scientists working in institutions throughout the U.S. and in foreign countries. These scientists conduct basic, translational, patient-oriented and demonstration research to increase understanding of fundamental processes in health and disease, to promote timely transfer and community adoption of research findings. The institute also supports research training and career development to ensure an adequate pool of research personnel.

In addition to an Office of the Director, which incorporates research training and career development, the division consists of the Program Development Branch, which includes inherited, infectious, neoplastic, and chronic disabling diseases and disorders; biomaterials, biomimetics and tissue engineering; and behavior, health promotion and environment--as well as clinical trials and clinical core centers, diversity initiatives, comprehensive centers of discovery, and technology transfer.he Program Operations Branch includes scientific review, grants management, and contracts offices.

Program Development Branch

The Inherited Diseases and Disorders Program supports research from molecular biology to clinical investigations on normal dental-oral-craniofacial development and on etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of inherited diseases and disorders such as ectodermal dysplasia, cleft lip and palate, amelogenesis imperfecta, dentinogenesis imperfecta, osteogenesis imperfecta, and other inherited diseases that have oral manifestations. Research on developmentally related disorders such as occlusion defects and those acquired through trauma are included.

The Infectious Diseases Program supports research on etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of oral infectious diseases such as dental caries, periodontitis, oral candidiasis, herpes, hepatitis, and HIV/AIDS. Research on immunity is included with special emphasis on mucosal and salivary immunity, and on oral manifestations of systemic infectious diseases and development of new diagnostics and therapeutics.

The Neoplastic Diseases Program funds basic, translational, patient-oriented, and community-based research on the etiology, pathogenesis and metastasis, epidemiology, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of oral and pharyngeal neoplastic diseases.

The Chronic Disabling Diseases Program supports a full range of research involving chronic diseases associated with the dental-oral-craniofacial complex. These include nonheritable and postnatally acquired diseases and conditions; temporomandibular joint disorders; neuropathies and neurodegenerative diseases, including those involving oral sensory and motor functions; and autoimmune diseases. Included is research elucidating the relationships between chronic diseases of the dental-oral-craniofacial complex and systemic diseases.

The Biomaterials, Biomimetics and Tissue Engineering Program supports basic, translational, and patient-oriented research to enhance the development of natural and synthetic therapeutics and biomaterials used for the repair, regeneration, restoration, and reconstruction of dental-oral-craniofacial molecules, cells, tissues, and organs.

The Behavior, Health Promotion and Environment Program supports basic, patient-oriented, and community-based research aimed at assessing the interactive roles of sociological, behavioral, economic, environmental, genetic, and biomedical factors in dental-oral-craniofacial diseases and disorders. These include examining the impact of oral health care delivery systems, clinical decisionmaking, and health promotion on health outcomes.

The Diversity in Research Portfolio enhances research on minority dental-oral-craniofacial health issues, expands the diversity of the scientific work force, and increases the research capacity of minority institutions and of those serving primarily minority populations. These objectives are achieved through Regional Research Centers for Minority Oral Health and Collaborative Opportunities for Research Minority Oral Health grants; through supplements to research grants supporting minority individuals at the high school, undergraduate, graduate, postdoctoral and career investigators levels; and through collaborative funding through NIGMS’s MARC ( Minority Access to Research Careers) and MBRS (Minority Biomedical Research Support) grants.

The Clinical Trials and Clinical Core Centers Portfolio recognizes the increasing need to establish a strong foundation for support of meritorious clinical research. The Clinical Core Centers provide the administrative, scientific and technical core resources to support clinical dental-oral-craniofacial research, including clinical trials. Short-term training is provided in the design and conduct of single- and multicenter clinical trials through the Research Training and Career Development Program.

The Technology Transfer Portfolio responds to NIDR’s increasing partnering with industry in the identification, development, translation and commercialization of new technologies resulting from dental-oral-craniofacial research. It expands on the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant programs, which seek to increase the role of the private sector in cooperative research and development as well as commercialization of innovations from federally sponsored research.

The Research Training and Career Development Program ensures the future of dental-oral-craniofacial research by developing an outstanding and diverse scientific workforce through programs designed for undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral stages of education and for continued career development of scientists and retraining of midcareer scientists.

Comprehensive Oral Research Centers of Discovery are each organized around a scientific theme pertinent to diseases and disorders of the dental-oral-craniofacial complex. Each integrates basic, translational, applied biomedical and behavioral research, accelerates science-technology transfer, provides a vehicle for cross-disciplinary and collaborative research, and provides health professionals and the public with the latest information about dental-oral-craniofacial health.

NIDR also funded 50 center grants for an estimated $24.4 million, which was about 17 percent of the DER grant budget. The awards funded 19 exploratory centers; 5 Research Centers in Oral Biology, which are noncategorical; 2 Oral Health in Aging Centers; 3 Periodontal Diseases Research Centers; 3 Caries Research Centers; 3 Craniofacial Anomalies Research Centers; 3 Materials Science Research Centers; 4 Clinical Dental Research Core Centers; 4 Minority Oral Health Research Centers; and 4 Oral Cancer Research Centers.

Program Operations Branch

The Scientific Review Office coordinates initial scientific peer review of a variety of large research grant applications such as centers and program projects, training and career development applications, and small grants and conference grant applications, and coordinates and conducts project site visits and other review procedures.

The Grants Management Office is responsible for all fiscal management activities associated with the review, negotiation, award, administration and termination of grants. The Contracts Management Office has responsibility for all matters relating to solicitation, negotiation, award and administration of research and development contracts.

Contracted Research Studies

NIDR’s contracted research activities of the extramural and intramural research programs fund studies to readily translate advances in the basic sciences to disease-oriented applied research as well as to provide support complementary to basic science investigations. Interagency agreements with other Federal agencies have also been utilized to provide support toward these NIDR goals.

Division of Intramural Research

NIDR’s Division of Intramural Research conducts basic, translational, clinical and epidemiological research directed toward increasing fundamental knowledge of oral diseases and related disorders. Areas investigated include biochemistry, structure, function and development of bone, teeth, salivary glands and connective tissues; the role of bacteria and viruses in oral disease; genetic disorders and tumors of the oral cavity; cause and treatment of acute and chronic pain; development of new and improved diagnostic methods; epidemiology of dental, oral and craniofacial diseases; and researchers in seven branches, and a series of clinical or laboratory core facilities.

The Gene Therapy and Therapeutics Branch conducts research related to the diagnosis, prevention and management of oral and dental diseases. Primary efforts are directed at salivary gland gene transfer based on a detailed understanding of salivary secretion and function. These studies include investigations of xerostomia (dry mouth) and establishing criteria for evaluating salivary gland status.

The Craniofacial and Skeletal Diseases Branch studies development and structure of mineralized tissues (bones, teeth and cartilage). Emphasis is placed on acquired heritable disorders of the skeleton through research in bone and cartilage cell biology, skeletal tissue metabolism and matrix molecules—major components of most tissues and critical factors in oral tissue development, function and health.

The Pain and Neurosensory Mechanisms Branch has as its primary interests clinical and basic research on pain mechanisms, the development of new methods of assessing pain, and evaluating new approaches to pain control. Collaborative studies, including research on pain associated with cancer and diabetes, have been initiated with other institutes.

Scientists in the Oral Infection and Immunity Branch conduct basic research on mechanisms of human infectious diseases including bacterial and viral infections (including AIDS) and their role in governing interplay between oral and systemic health. Other studies focus on acute and chronic inflammatory responses, including mucosal immunity and vaccine design and development.

The Craniofacial Developmental Biology and Regeneration Branch investigates the roles and gene regulation of the extracellular matrix, a key component of connective tissue, and other cell interaction systems in embryonic development and related processes. Research focuses on such areas as normal and abnormal embryonic development of craniofacial and other tissues, cancer metastasis and wound healing.

Research in the Oral and Pharyngeal Cancer Branch is directed toward understanding the role of growth and regulatory factors in oncogenesis. Studies focus on molecular mechanisms responsible for conversion of normal cells to a malignant state.

The Oral Health Promotion, Risk Factors, and Molecular Epidemiology Branch conducts research on the epidemiology of a broad range of oral conditions. Branch scientists investigate patterns of and genetic basis for a number of oral, craniofacial and systemic diseases and disorders.

In addition to its branches, the division operates research core facilities or single standing programs in clinical research, gene targeting, cellular imaging, molecular structural biology, matrix metalloproteinase biology, and immunopathology.


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