UTHealth Dental and Nursing Schools Present Joint Research Workshop

Dentistry Today


Research collaborations between the School of Dentistry and Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth hold great potential for fostering healthcare improvements, according to the university, which hosted the first workshop between the schools in April.

During the teleconference, 23 members of the faculty made 22 presentations, followed by breakout sessions for small group discussions, with 50 members of the faculty in attendance.

“Faculty in both schools appeared to have various intersecting research interests, which was evidenced in the workshop,” said Ariadne Letra, DDS, MS, PhD, interim associate dean for research at the dental school.

“There are numerous studies focused on oral health at UTHealth School of Dentistry. Partnering with the Cizik School of Nursing faculty to explore the systemic health of our patient populations will allow us to answer questions on potential links between poor oral health and systemic disease,” said Letra.

“This is an exciting beginning for developing productive, long-term relationships between nursing and dental school faculty members,” said Constance Johnson, PhD, MS, RN, the nursing school’s associate dean for research.

“I look forward to working together on projects where dentistry and nursing intersect to advance healthcare knowledge and practice,” said Johnson.

Each presented had five minutes to present their projects and/or ideas followed by a minute for questions. Presentations were grouped based on common themes, such as connections between oral and systemic health, early disease diagnosis, health disparities in aging and/or vulnerable populations, and technological advances.

Breakout discussions were held in two sessions with moderators across each Webex room.

Discussions for the workshop began in January 2021 with Letra and Johnson meeting weekly. School-based communications and presenter instructions were shared with faculty by the respective research heads.

Feedback for the event promoted the delivery of information across a vast topical field. Several attendees said that, as a result of the workshop, they have scheduled follow-up meetings with faculty between schools that may result in collaborations.

“This workshop was a starting point to bring faculty from both schools together. We are in the process of planning additional activities to keep research conversations going. Hopefully this will facilitate collaborative research and lead to successful funding outcomes,” said Letra.

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