NIDCR Director Shares How Research is Realizing the Promise of Science and Advancing Health

Dr. D’Souza participates in the Dean’s Speaker Series event open to the dental school, alumni and local scientific research community.

Dr. D’Souza participates in the Dean’s Speaker Series event, which is open to the dental school, alumni and local scientific research community.

The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry family recently enjoyed a unique opportunity to hear from Rena N. D’Souza, DDS, MS, PhD, Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), National Institutes of Health during a day of on-campus activities in August.

NIDCR is the federal government's lead agency for scientific research on dental, oral and craniofacial health and disease. Dr. D’Souza oversees the institute’s annual budget of approximately $501 million, supporting basic, translational and clinical research into oral cancer, orofacial pain, tooth decay, periodontal disease, salivary gland dysfunction, craniofacial development and disorders, and the oral complications of systemic diseases.

Her visit included a lunchtime presentation geared for students and residents, and an evening Dean’s Speaker Series presentation “Oral Health for All:  Realizing the Promise of Science,” which was open to the entire dental school along with Bay Area alumni and members of the local research community. She also toured the San Francisco Campus, meeting with department chairs, faculty and other school leaders.

Dr. D’Souza shared the history of dentistry as a science-based health profession, provided an overview of the National Institutes of Health and the formation of the NIDCR and how it works to fulfill its mission to advance fundamental knowledge about dental, oral and craniofacial health and disease and translate these findings into prevention, early detection and treatment strategies that improve overall lifelong health.

Dr. D’Souza also discussed some of the insights from the landmark report Oral Health in America: Advances and Challenges, the culmination of two years of research and writing by over 400 contributors. As a follow up to the Surgeon General's Report on Oral Health in America, the report explores the nation's oral health over the last 20 years. She also presented highlights from the NIDCR Strategic Plan (2021-2026). The plan advances research and training strategic priorities with an overarching theme of translation, and offers a new mission, vision and focus on core values including equity, diversity and inclusion.

“Dr. D’Souza’s presentation was fulfilling and enlightening because it highlighted the fact that the dental profession will continue to have a monumental impact in systemic health across the globe as dental research continues to advance,” said Michael Ricupito, a member of the DDS Class of 2023.

Meeting with school community