New Grant Marks Over 30 Years of Federal Research Training Support for the UConn School of Dental Medicine

The latest federal grant to support the T90/R90 research program is valued at $2.7 million over the next 5 years

From left to right: Ms. Laura Didden, Dr. Frank Nichols, Dr. Mina Mina, and Ms. Lisa Ramsdell. (Brandon Mulcunry photo)

The UConn School of Dental Medicine was recently awarded a 5-year, $2.7 million T90/R90 training grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research/ National Institutes of Health (NIDCR/NIH) to continue to support research training for students in the combined DMD/Ph.D. program and Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows in Skeletal Biology and Regeneration.

The School of Dental Medicine has received federal research training grant support from the NIH for over 30 years. This new award adds another 5 years of support.

Dr. Mina Mina, professor and chair of the Division of Pediatric Dentistry and director of the DMD/Ph.D. program serves as the principal investigator for this grant. As the leader of the T90/R90 research training program, Mina has made highly significant contributions to the program.

“The academic atmosphere at the UConn School of Dental Medicine has long been one of universal respect and cooperation among scientists and clinicians,” says Mina. “The collegial environment, the training experiences and accomplishments of the School of Dental Medicine are the foundations for this training grant.”

Additional significant contributors include co-director and professor of Periodontology, Dr. Frank Nichols, and Ms. Lisa Ramsdell and Ms. Laura Didden in the School of Dental Medicine research office.

The UConn-NIDCR T90/R90 Research Training Program supports and enhances the training of individuals preparing to be independent scientists in academics, industry and government, and related careers. The program is an interdisciplinary, research-intensive training program that primarily focuses on skeletal, craniofacial, and oral biology research. Research mentors are from the School of Dental Medicine, the School of Medicine, and the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, with additional advisors and resources available at the UConn Storrs campus.

The training grant was first awarded to the School of Dental Medicine 33 years ago through the T32 mechanism, which was converted to the T90/R90 mechanism in July 2011. Since 1990, the T32 and T90/R90 training grants have supported 86 trainees, including 25 combined DMD/Ph.D. students, 16 combined residency/Ph.D. students,14 Ph.D. students, and 31 post-doctoral fellows.

In 2016, the School of Dental Medicine received the William J. Gies Award for Outstanding Achievement by an Academic Dental Institution, in recognition of its research training programs. This award is conferred by the American Dental Education Association.

“This is a very important grant for our school with high impact on the research environment and training opportunities at UConn Health in general,” says Dr. Rajesh Lalla, associate dean for research at the School of Dental Medicine. “A big thanks to Drs. Mina and Nichols, as well as Ms. Ramsdell and Ms. Didden, for all their efforts that led to this recent successful grant award. This will provide valuable research training opportunities and support for the next generation of researchers.”