In 2009, a year defined by a national economic recession, the University of Maryland Dental School has harvested a bumper crop of support, including a 47 percent increase in research funding, and a late December gift to underwrite a new endowed chair, reports Dean Christian S. Stohler, DMD.
The yearend total was $15.4 million in research sponsored grants to the Dental School, representing the highest percentage increase from 2008 of the six professional schools of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
Yet, the achievement should be shared with sister schools, says Stohler. "Much of the success is due to cooperative projects emerging across the campus, especially with the School of Medicine in the research areas of tissue regeneration, carcinogenesis, pain and neuroscience, and microbial pathogenesis."
Also, donations from alumni and friends in 2009 were higher than any previous year. Says Stohler,"Great things can happen during bad times."
"The Dental School's tremendous success in 2009 is a testament to the talents and efforts of its faculty and staff. "It is also a direct result of the leadership and strategic vision of Dean Stohler," said James Hughes, MBA, vice president for research and development at UMB.
In December, Stohler named Stuart Josell, DMD, chair of the orthodontics department, as the School's new "Edgar and Betty Sweren Chair in Orthodontics," following a substantial gift from the Swerens.
Also in 2009, the school made "great strides," said Stohler, in its priority programs of expanding digital dentistry education, dental care to the surrounding community, and the School's first state-of-the-art rural clinic to serve the underserved, a cooperative venture at Perryville, Md. with Cecil College and Union Hospital.
"For the University of Maryland Dental School, the Perryville clinic is the newest embodiment of our vision to address the needs of underserved populations and, most importantly, produce the next generation of oral health care professionals," says Stohler. "There are a lot of dental needs in that community. So far we know there are about 4,000 children who have not seen a dentist in the past four years."
So far, the clinic has served more than 700 patients with the volume growing almost daily.
The goal is to get oral health there to a level comparable to that of the remainder of the state. The Cecil County clinic also is part of the Dental School's education model focused on the unique needs of a rural population. The telemedicine component of the Perryville allows students to have remote access to the specialty faculty in Baltimore to provide enhanced care.
The dean said the faculty is transforming the Dental School to a dental school of the world. It is partnering with 14 other dental schools around the world.
The Dental School admits 130 students each year from about 3,000 applicants. The 570 current students in the School have access to 1,000 lectures on line. Around the world about 200,000 people view the lectures in a year.
"It is clearly an explosion. We have a new generation that looks at education in very different ways. At first these viewers, students were like ghosts. Now they are coming back to us to asked questions. It is a whole new learning environment we have created," said Stohler.
Locally, Dental School students also provided over $12 million worth of unreimbursed and under-reimbursed care to people in the Baltimore metropolitan area that are hurting by the downturn of the economy.