This summer, predoctoral students are taking advantage of more opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research through the newly expanded Dental Student Research Fellowship Program at UCSF School of Dentistry.
For the first time ever, a cohort of four, incoming first-year dental students are conducting research over the summer. They will join 20 rising second-year students in the program, which allows students to pursue intensive research projects under the mentorship of UCSF Dentistry faculty.
The participating students and their faculty mentors submitted research proposals earlier this year to a selection committee comprised of faculty from all four UCSF Dentistry departments. Selections were based on the scientific merit of each proposal, as well as on the anticipated training potential and research experience to be gained in conducting the project.
The program started on June 28 and ends in early September, with the months of hard work culminating in the students presenting their projects at Research and Clinical Excellence Day on Oct. 12, 2022 at UCSF. Many will also go on to present at national and international conferences, and some even become published researchers.
The catalyst behind expanding the program was to ensure equitable opportunities for all students who are interested in conducting research. Future cohorts can take advantage of two tracks – a summer program for incoming first-year DDS students and a yearlong program for second-year DDS and third-year International Dentist Pathway (IDP) students.
Dr. Lisa Berens, DDS, MPH, professor and chair of the program, said offering two tracks will ensure that research opportunities are available to more students, while accommodating projects that can be completed over a year, as well as those that are better suited for a short, concentrated project period. The program’s traditional summer timeline, which allowed for students to participate after completing their first year, is undergoing a change to accommodate the alignment of the DDS and IDP programs.
"We are thankful for the school’s support of this expansion,” said Dr. Berens. "We also are thankful to the faculty mentors who continue to participate in the program, some of whom are mentoring multiple students.”