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Penn Dental Medicine’s DScD Degree Option

December 20, 2011, Volume 58, No. 16

Penn Dental Medicine is adding to its academic programs, announcing the establishment of a new doctoral degree that will combine a doctor of science in dentistry (DScD) with advanced training in a clinical dental specialty. The new program was approved by the University of Pennsylvania Trustees at their November meeting (Almanac November 8, 2011) and is undergoing final approval by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. 

The program will be open to students with a DMD/DDS degree or equivalent who are pursuing advanced training in one of Penn Dental Medicine’s clinical specialty programs. Initially, it will be open to students within the Periodontics, Endodontics, Orthodontics, Periodontic/Prosthesis, or Oral Medicine postgraduate programs. Candidates will concurrently complete their clinical specialty training and DScD degree, engaging in an intensive research program for approximately five years that culminates in a thesis and oral defense. The program will also be open to individuals who have completed their clinical specialty training, but are interested in obtaining a DScD degree; students in this track would earn their DScD in four years, completing all of the didactic courses and research requirements, but not directly participating in clinical care.

“There is a significant need to inspire students to enter academic dentistry, and to prepare them for successful careers through extensive research experience—that is our key goal with this new program,” said Dr. Denis Kinane, Morton Amsterdam Dean of Penn Dental Medicine. “It will enable students to utilize the strong research environment at Penn Dental Medicine and the other schools within the University of Pennsylvania.”

“The program will combine both the research and clinical strengths of the School and increase interaction between the basic and clinical departments, drawing faculty mentors from both,” said Dr. Dana Graves, professor in the department of periodontics and associate dean for translational research, who in partnership with Dr. Claire Mitchell, associate professor, department of anatomy & cell biology, worked with the school’s faculty and administration in developing the program.

With the goal of providing students the opportunity to pursue research across disciplines, faculty from Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and School of Veterinary Medicine will also be participating in the program. “The involvement of other schools will broaden the range of research projects available, and conversely, DScD students will enrich the laboratories in which they participate,” added Dr. Mitchell.

“Both rigorous clinical and research experiences are central to the DScD program,” noted Dr. Graves. Students will devote from 40 to 80% of their time in each of the five years to research, and clinical training will occur in all five years of the program to ensure maintenance of clinical skills throughout. In addition, all students will take courses in grant writing and write an NIH K08 or K23 grant. 

It is anticipated that the program will accept three to five students per year. For more information on the program, contact Dr. Dana Graves, dtgraves@dental.upenn.edu

Related: Penn Dental Medicine's New Dual-Degree with Wharton

Almanac - December 20, 2011, Volume 58, No. 16