UConn Professor Honored for Achievements in Evidence-Based Dentistry

Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo

Dentistry Today
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Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo

Rajesh V. Lalla, DDS, PhD, professor and associate dean for research at the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, is the winner of the 2020 Evidence-based Dentistry Accomplished Faculty Award from the ADA and the American Association for Dental Research (AADR).

The national award recognizes a senior dental educator who has made significant contributions to implement and advance evidence-based dentistry (EBD) in research, practice, or education. Lalla is the first winner of this award from the University of Connecticut.

“Dr. Lalla is a highly accomplished faculty member who has led the development of evidence-based dentistry educational programs, has led research on EBD pedagogy, and has made significant contributions to the scientific knowledge base required for evidence-based practice,” said Dr. Steven Lepowsky, interim dean of the School of Dental Medicine.

“This is a well-deserved award that recognizes many years of hard work and leadership in this area,” said Lepowsky.

Lalla developed and currently teaches the school’s course on evidence-based decision-making for dental students, which emphasizes experiential learning and student participation with minimal lecturing.

In a study led by Lalla, graduates of this course showed a highly significant increase in knowledge regarding critical appraisal of the literature, a highly significant increase in confidence when evaluating published research, and increased frequency of accessing evidence from various sources.

Also, Lalla has worked to educate faculty, dental residents, and community dentists about EBD by implementing programs at the University of Connecticut and leading presentations at American Dental Education Association national-level conferences and in Connecticut.

Lalla leads a successful clinical research program that has been funded continuously since 2001 by the National Institutes of Health and by foundations and the industry, the university said.

Through his own research as well as his involvement and leadership in numerous international projects, the university continued, Lalla has made a significant contribution to developing resources to promote evidence-based practice for dentistry as well as medicine, nursing, and other health professions.

Lalla also has published more than a hundred scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals including 23 systematic reviews and evidence-based guidelines such as clinical practice guidelines for the management of mucositis secondary to cancer therapy. His publications have been viewed online more than 35,000 times and cited more than 3,500 times.

A committee comprising members of the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs Clinical Excellence Subcommittee, representation from the AADR, and a non-voting participant from Colgate selected the winner of the award. Lalla was honored during the ADA annual meeting, held virtually in October this year.

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