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As dentistry moves into the twenty-first century, it is being reshaped and recharged by an infusion of new information and exciting technological advances on both the diagnostic and treatment fronts. Research progress is accelerating in areas as diverse as restorative materials, diagnostic imaging, immunopathology, and illness behavior modification. At the leading edge of this research explosion is the University of Washington's Regional Clincial Dental Research Center (RCDRC). Funded by a major grant from the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR), the Center's mission is to advance patient care by expanding knowledge on the pathogenesis, diagnosis, early detection, prevention, control, and treatment of oral diseases, disorders, and dysfunctions. The Regional Clinical Dental Research Center (RCDRC) provides facilities and resources for clinical research relevant to pathogenesis, diagnosis, early detection, prevention, control, and treatment of oral diseases, disorders, and/or dysfunctions. The goal is to improve significantly our capacity to deal with all aspects of these diseases and disorders and promote oral health by developing new ideas, concepts, treatment procedures, and diagnostic systems based on scientific knowledge rather than customary practice. We also seek to make maximum application of new knowledge and modern biotechnology, and to focus the underserved, elderly, minority, disabled, and other special patient populations.

The RCDRC provides an environment and facilities for controlled clinical research of normal and abnormal body function. The setting promotes supervision and protection of the rights and welfare of human subjects, encourages interdisciplinary collaboration between basic and clinical scientists, and provides unique opportunities for the study not only of large populations of patients with commonly encountered clinical disorders, but also of patients with rare or unusual oral and dental diseases. The RCDRC serves as a research training site for our residency and graduate training programs, especially NIDR-supported postdoctoral training programs. The RCDRC consists of four Cores: Administrative, Biometry, Biomedical, and Biobehavioral. They are structured to enhance communications and collaboration, and to carefully monitor program progress and pilot and feasibility research.

Specific objectives of the RCDRC program are:

  • To enhance the quantity, diversity, and quality of clinical research.
  • To encourage clinical research by clinical faculty not now involved in research activities.
  • To contribute to achieving the national oral health objectives expressed in Healthy People 2000.
  • To provide enhanced research opportunity to residents, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate and predoctoral dental students.
  • To encourage more clinical research based on and emanating from our ongoing funded basic research programs.
  • To focus on the assessment of Therapeutic Outcomes.
  • To produce pilot data to serve as the basis for obtaining funding from federal, state, and other sources.
  • To enhance clinical research in high-priority areas such as assessment of risk for oral disease and therapeutic outcomes, new diagnostics and therapies, pain, and research into problems of special populations, including the elderly, disabled, minority, and underserved.
  • To take advantage of unexpected research opportunities.