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Release: Immediate

UI dental research center awarded $2.3 million

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Oral Health Research Clinical Core Center at the
University of Iowa College of Dentistry will receive five years of renewed funding
totaling. $2.3 million from the National Institute of Dental Research. Established in
1991, the center aims to promote clinical research, train new investigators and
communicate research findings to practitioners.

Dr. James Wefel, UI professor and director of the center, says the renewed funding
reflects the center's success at fostering research that benefits patients, particularly
the elderly and others with health problems that complicate dental treatment. "Our
scope will expand somewhat, but we will maintain an emphasis on the elderly and
special populations," he says.

The center's goal is to speed the transfer of research from the laboratory to the
clinic, where it can have a direct impact on patient care. It provides expertise in
clinical research, or studies involving human volunteers that are a necessary step in
testing potential treatments. It also offers support and limited funding to a number
of promising pilot studies.

"The pilot projects are designed to get the initial data that's needed to obtain a
federal or industrial grant," Wefel says. Once fully funded, these and other studies
can draw on the center's laboratory, statistical and consulting resources.

"We offer the expertise to assist in clinical trials by helping to design the study,
determine the sample population, and recruit subjects and keep them in the trial,"
Wefel explains. The center also helps researchers determine whether particular
studies are feasible based on population demographics.

The center also works to prepare new clinical researchers. "Most people come into
clinical research as good investigators or good clinicians, but probably not both,"
Wefel says. "Part of our mission is to provide the training they need and to assist
them along the way."

Once studies are completed, the center helps communicate new findings to
practicing clinicians around the world. It has hosted two international symposiums
and continually seeks ways to improve the dissemination of valuable research
results.

UI dental research center awarded $2.3 million - 2

"We are going to make use of all the telecommunications technology that is available
to us," Wefel says, including interactive presentations over the Iowa
Communications Network (ICN) and the Internet. Unique resources like the ICN
may help the center develop its already strong education and research dissemination
programs, Wefel says.

The center's success and continued development highlight the importance of
cooperation between academic departments, colleges and health care professions,
particularly at major research institutions like the UI. "We don't just limit ourselves
to the College of Dentistry, but draw on all the resources of the UI Health Sciences
Center to bring investigators together," Wefel says.

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