School of Dental Medicine Reaches Highest Research Ranking in School History

The UConn School of Dental Medicine ranks 8th among all dental schools in the United States for research funding from the National Institutes of Health

Student Patricia Hare at work in the lab.

Dental student Patricia Hare conducting research (Ethan Giorgetti/UConn Health Photo)

The UConn School of Dental Medicine now ranks 8th among all 67 dental schools in the United States for overall research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is the highest ranking in the School’s history.

This latest ranking was recently published by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. It is based on NIH data for NIH fiscal year 2020, during which the School received $9.40 million in direct funding from the NIH. In NIH fiscal year 2019, the School ranked 16th and received $5.37 million in direct NIH funding.

Total research funding to the School from all sources has grown significantly over the last several years. Funding averaged $9.58 million per year over the last 3 years, and is on track to reach $11 million for the current fiscal year.

“This highest-ever national ranking provides objective evidence of the growth and success of our research programs,” says Dr. Rajesh Lalla, associate dean for research at the UConn School of Dental Medicine. “It demonstrates the excellence of the SDM research community, including our faculty, trainees, and staff who contribute to conducting and supporting research. This growth, success, and excellence enables us to achieve our research missions of generation of new knowledge to benefit humanity and training the next generation of researchers.”

Funding from NIH is highly competitive, and the success rate for NIH grant applications is typically in the 10% to 20% range. The number of extramural grant applications from the School has almost doubled over the last few years, from 52 in fiscal year 2016 to 97 in fiscal year 2020.

This ranking is based only on funding from the NIH and is not adjusted for school size. UConn School of Dental Medicine, with one of the smallest class sizes in the country, is ranked alongside larger, research-intensive schools.

“The discovery, dissemination and application of new knowledge is one of the core values of an academic dental center. This achievement is a reflection of the outstanding work of our faculty, students, residents and staff – and a reminder that we remain committed to the pursuit of excellence and innovation,” says Dr. Steven Lepowsky, dean of the School of Dental Medicine.

Research is one of the cornerstones of the School of Dental Medicine’s mission. Research programs at the School span a broad spectrum of basic and clinical research areas. Major research strengths at the School include Behavioral Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, and Skeletal Development and Regeneration. Additional active research areas include periodontal disease, oral microbiome, oral-systemic connections, temporomandibular joint disease, tooth movement, dental implants, diagnostic imaging, and oral side-effects of cancer therapies.

The School of Dental Medicine has had 40 years of continuous NIH funding for graduate-level research training, making the School nationally known as a training ground for new dental faculty. Research opportunities available to pre-doctoral students include the DMD/PhD combined program and a robust summer research program.

To read more about the School of Dental Medicine’s latest research, visit the School’s page on UConn Today.