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Pitt’s Dental School Awarded $2M Grant Aimed at Reducing Oral Health Disparities

PITTSBURGH, July 21, 2015 – The University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine has been awarded a $2 million, five-year, Title VII grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The funding will support the expansion of the current, successful residency program in pediatric dentistry to include two multidisciplinary program tracks specializing in the care of patients in underserved rural settings and special needs populations. One track focuses on providing advanced dental care to the special needs community and the second focuses on dental public health policy and practices for children in rural and underserved areas.

“We will aim to improve the quality and quantity of available dental health workforce in rural and underserved regions of western Pennsylvania, specifically in northern Appalachia where there is a shortage of oral health professionals. The Title VII funding gives the pediatric dental residency a wonderful opportunity for educating additional residents to be dually trained and providing much needed dental services to the region’s most vulnerable populations,” said Deborah Studen-Pavlovich, D.M.D., chair of pediatric dentistry and program director for the Pediatric Dentistry Residency Program.

Robert Weyant, D.M.D., Dr.P.H., associate dean for dental public health and community outreach, added, “This new program also will help our residents’ transition into meaningful careers where their training can be brought to bear on reducing oral health disparities.”

Graduates of this expanded program will receive a certificate in pediatric dentistry as well as a multidisciplinary Masters of Public Health degree. To ensure the success of the program, Pitt’s Dental School will expand its collaboration with Pitt’s Department of Family Medicine, the Center for Patients with Special Needs, and many regional and national community health partners to provide residents family oriented, community-based training that emphasizes cultural competency.

The grant will support two pediatric dental residents who express a desire to pursue advanced training in pediatric dentistry and dental public health with an emphasis on rural, disadvantaged and special needs populations.

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