Lalla Recognized for Excellence in Evidence-Based Dentistry

Rajesh Lalla DDS Ph.D. is a professor and the Associate Dean for Research at UConn School of Dental Medicine on November 9, 2018. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo)

Dr. Rajesh V. Lalla, professor and associate dean for research at the UConn School of Dental Medicine, is the winner of the 2020 Evidence-based Dentistry Accomplished Faculty Award from the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Association for Dental Research (AADR).

This prestigious national award recognizes a senior dental educator who has made significant contributions to implement and advance evidence-based dentistry (EBD) in research, practice, or education. Lalla is the first winner of this award from the University of Connecticut.

“Dr. Lalla is a highly accomplished faculty member who has led the development of evidence based dentistry educational programs, has led research on EBD pedagogy, and has made significant contributions to the scientific knowledge base required for evidence-based practice,” said Dr. Steven Lepowsky, interim dean of the School of Dental Medicine. “This is a well-deserved award that recognizes many years of hard work and leadership in this area.”

Lalla developed and currently teaches the school’s course on evidence-based decision-making for dental students, which emphasizes experiential learning and student participation with minimal lecturing. In a study led by Lalla and published in the Journal of Dental Education, graduates of this course showed a highly significant increase in knowledge regarding critical appraisal of the literature, a highly significant increase in confidence when evaluating published research, and increased frequency of accessing evidence from various sources.

Lalla has also worked to educate faculty, dental residents, and community dentists on evidence-based dentistry through implementing programs at UConn and leading presentations at national-level conferences of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) as well as in Connecticut.

Lalla leads a successful clinical research program, which has been funded continuously since 2001 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), foundations, or industry. Through his own research as well as his involvement and leadership in numerous international projects, Lalla has made a significant contribution to developing resources to promote evidence-based practice for not only dentistry but also medicine, nursing and other health professions. He has published over 100 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, including 23 systematic reviews and evidence-based guidelines, such as clinical practice guidelines for the management of mucositis secondary to cancer therapy, published in the journal Cancer. Collectively, his publications have been viewed online over 35,000 times and cited over 3500 times in the peer-reviewed literature.

The winner of the award is selected by a committee composed of members of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs Clinical Excellence Subcommittee, representation from AADR and a non-voting participant from Colgate. Lalla was honored during the ADA annual meeting, which was held in a virtual format this year.