New Program Will Work To Change Dental Education And Improve Dental Access

November 7, 2001

Princeton, N.J., November 7, 2001 – The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation this week announced a new, six-year effort to increase access to dental care for low-income and medically disadvantaged populations. Funding through the $19-million Pipeline, Profession and Practice: Community-Based Dental Education initiative will be available for up to 10 dental schools to develop programs to increase access to dental care for underserved populations by encouraging community education programs and by recruiting more underrepresented minority and low-income students into dentistry. $15 million will be made available to selected schools and $4 million will be used to support the overall program. “While the nation’s overall dental health has improved greatly in the last half-century, disadvantaged populations – low-income, medically disabled, and geographically isolated – continue to suffer from poor oral health and inadequate access to care,” said Judith Stavisky, senior program officer at The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Pipeline, Profession and Practice focuses on the dental schools’ ability to reduce those gaps in care through community-based education programs that expands patient care to underserved populations.” Dental schools funded through the Pipeline program will forge partnerships that enable their students, residents, and faculty to work with private practitioners, health agencies, hospitals, schools, clinics, and other community organizations to provide services to populations with limited access to dental care and poor oral health. Schools also will develop strategies to recruit more low-income students and more African-American, Latino, Native American and other underrepresented minorities into dentistry. The Pipeline, Profession and Practice program office will be based at Columbia University’s School of Dental and Oral Surgery under the direction of Allan Formicola, D.D.S., M.S., at Columbia and Howard Bailit, D.M.D., Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut Health Center and Hartford Hospital. Kim Herbert, MPH, also at Columbia, will serve as the program’s deputy director. Dr. Formicola said, “Dental schools are an important national resource and keenly interested in improving services to underserved populations. This new RWJF initiative will help the dental schools in expanding their programs to help reach those populations". Dr. Bailit added, “The dental profession has long recognized the need to improve access to care for low-income population groups and welcomes the efforts of this project." More detailed information about the application process is available in the Call for Proposals (CFP) issued this week. The CFP is available on the RWJF web site, www.rwjf.org, and the program web site, dentalpipeline.columbia.edu.

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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates its grantmaking in four goal areas: to assure that all Americans have access to basic health care at reasonable cost; to improve care and support for people with chronic health conditions; to promote healthy communities and lifestyles; and to reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse -- tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs.

The School of Dental and Oral Surgery (SDOS) at Columbia University, founded in 1917, is located at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center campus in northern Manhattan. In addition to providing education programs for pre- and post-doctoral candidates, SDOS conducts research in state-of-the-art facilities and oversees an extensive community-based service program for residents in the surrounding community - a Federally designated medical and dental manpower shortage area. Outreach into the community includes dental programs in seven area public schools, a dental van, and three off-site community-based dental clinics, providing a rich learning environment for students at SDOS.

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Columbia University, Judith Stavisky, RWJF, SDOS