Provost IMPACT Award supports innovation in education, clinical care and research for dental students

KatarzynaBialasiewicz, iStock / Getty Images Plus
KatarzynaBialasiewicz, iStock / Getty Images Plus

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 16, 2024) — The Institutional Multidisciplinary Paradigm to Accelerate Collaboration and Transformation (IMPACT) Awards were launched in 2023 to champion the necessary and groundbreaking work done by University of Kentucky faculty and other campus community members.

The inaugural IMPACT Awards total more than $600,000 — with a particular emphasis on proposals that are transdisciplinary, innovative and aligned with some aspect of The UK-PURPOSE, the UK Strategic Plan.

In 2024, IMPACT will continue to fund projects similarly aimed at supporting the university to continue leading in teaching, research, service and care.

This spring, UKNow is highlighting the 2023 IMPACT Award projects and the faculty who are leading them. Today, we learn more about the College of Dentistry’s project titled “Dental Integrated Research Education and Clinical Training” (DIRECT).

Luciana Shaddox, D.D.S., Ph.D., the associate dean for research and director of the Center for Oral Health Research (COHR); Craig Miller, D.M.D., associate dean for faculty development; and Emily Winfrey, D.M.D., associate dean for academic affairs, are leading the project that focuses on innovation in education and integrated clinical care and research in the College of Dentistry.

The main goal of this project is to develop training and mentoring strategies in collaborative clinical translational research that engage both clinical faculty and dental and graduate students in opportunities that will enhance appreciation and knowledge of evidence-based practice and inspire future engagement in research and academia.

The objectives of this proposal are to:

  1. Develop and re-design the curriculum to increase exposure to research methodology, evidence-based practices, teaching skills and opportunities, and integrated patient care.
  2. Develop collaborative research mentoring and training opportunities in interdisciplinary care and clinical-translational research.
  3. Develop the necessary infrastructure to enable and engage participation of students and faculty in integrated clinical care and research initiatives via cross-college transdisciplinary collaborative projects.

UKNow caught up with the research team to learn more about the project. You can read more in the Q&A session below.

How has the IMPACT award inspired innovation at UK with your research?

The IMPACT proposal has been an excellent propeller for the College of Dentistry. Collaborative interdisciplinary care team interactions have increased which will lead to increased opportunities for interdisciplinary data collection and pilot projects.

Funds are also being utilized to promote a research development series for students and faculty. The series includes participation of faculty from Nursing and Public Health, as well as representatives of UK centers (CCTS, libraries and the Proposal Development Office (PDO) office). Upon completing the series, participants will be able to apply for pilot funding, helping encourage multidisciplinary teams of junior and senior faculty members, as well as a student mentee (undergraduate or professional) engagement in research.

What positive impact will your research have on Kentucky and beyond?

We believe our clinical interdisciplinary model of professional education and research during direct patient care will serve as a great educational tool to improve training of our students as well as a model for comprehensive and integrative care to other schools around the US. We intend to publish a manuscript on this model by the end of this semester and submit it to the journal of American Dental Education.

How did you decide on this particular topic or research area?

Integration of care is the future of our profession. The mouth is connected to the body. Funding is increasing in this area as the clinical impact, scientific basis, and significance of integrated care increases. With Epic, the electronic health record used by UK HealthCare, we already have an integrated care software and an integrated care clinic. Putting our faculty to work together in an integrated educational clinical care setting and encouraging them to think of proper questions in that setting and collect proper data is the logical first step to achieving the best care and generating new evidence to further enhance this care.

What comes next for your research? 

The interdisciplinary teams will submit proposals for pilot studies next. This will hopefully spark greater collaborative work among the disciplines involved and also generate preliminary data for external proposal development and submissions.

As part of this initiative of integration of care, our Kentucky Oral Health Innovation Initiative group also submitted a couple of proposals Medicine (EXCEL initiative focused on diabetes and periodontal care integration and NIH R21 submission focused on periodontal disease and long COVID associations).

Most importantly, we intend to gather enough data and experience in this model to develop a school-based dental practice network proposal to the NIDCR under the same name: DIRECT (Dental Integrated Research Education and Clinical Training).

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.