CHR receives $14.2 million grant for dental research

Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research receives $14.2 million grant to support dental research efforts

CHR will serve as the Data Coordinating Center for the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network 

(Portland, OR) - Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research (CHR) has been awarded a seven-year, $14.2 million grant to serve as the Data Coordinating Center for the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN), a collaborative of over 6,000 U.S. dental practitioners and researchers committed to advancing knowledge of dental practice and conducting “practical science” to further benefit real world, everyday clinical practice.

The National Dental PBRN has conducted research involving over 63,000 patients on a wide range of clinical topics, such as post-endodontic pain, opioid prescribing practices, and oral cancer screenings.

Mary Ann McBurnieMary Ann McBurnie, PhD

Leading the Data Coordinating Center is CHR Senior Investigator Mary Ann McBurnie, PhD. McBurnie has over 20 years’ experience overseeing the design, implementation and coordination of Data Coordinating Centers (DCC), and recently served as principal investigator for the multi-site Community Health Applied Research Network (CHARN) Data Coordinating Center and led the DCC for CONCERT, the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Outcomes-based Network for Clinical Effectiveness and Research Translation.

“We are truly honored to join the National Dental PBRN,” said McBurnie.  “Our role will be to provide leadership, scientific and technical support that will advance its mission of improving oral health through rigorous, innovative, pragmatic and - most importantly - collaborative research with dental professionals and their patients.”

In addition to the Data Coordinating Center award, CHR will receive $2.6 million to continue as the Western Region site for the administrative and research center of the National Dental PBRN. This is the third consecutive, seven-year grant CHR has received to lead the Western Region since the dental PBRN was established in 2005. This grant period will continue through 2026.

The National Dental PBRN is supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). CHR and Permanente Dental Associates (PDA) dentists have participated in NIH-funded practice-based research since its inception in 2005. 

Western Region
The network’s Western Region comprises 1,000 dental practitioners and researchers across 11 states and three U.S. territories. More than 100 of them are affiliated with Permanente Dental Associates, one of the largest group dental practices in the nation. Since 1974 PDA has collaborated with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan to operate and jointly manage Kaiser Permanente Dental, caring for more than 290,000 dental members in 20 offices from SW Washington to Eugene, OR. Of Kaiser Permanente’s eight U.S. regions, the Northwest Region is the only one that offers dental care fully integrated with medical care, for more comprehensive, coordinated care.

Jeffery FellowsJeffery Fellows, PhD

The Western Region’s director is CHR Senior Investigator Jeffrey Fellows, PhD. The assistant director is Dr. Dan Pihlstrom, DDS, Dental Director, Evidence Based Care & Oral Health Research at PDA. “The network has been extremely productive during the past 14 years,” said Fellows. “We’ve engaged dental practitioners in every stage of the research process, completed 38 studies, published over 140 peer-reviewed papers, and delivered over 220 conference presentations. I am excited that we will be able to continue this work in the network, and our partnership with PDA.

“I am also really looking forward to working with Mary Ann and CHR’s Coordinating Center staff. The CHR CC is an excellent fit for the National Dental PBRN,” he added. “Our leadership and experience will make an excellent scientific contribution to patient care and oral health outcomes.”

"Engaging in practice-based research has made us better as an organization, better as clinicians and better for patients," noted Pihlstrom on behalf of PDA. "It's so gratifying to work with colleagues and an organization that values advancing knowledge for the benefit of all."

The Center for Health Research is uniquely positioned for studies that take place at the intersection of the medical and dental care environments. The Dental Care Program at Kaiser Permanente Northwest began as a federally funded research demonstration project which ran from 1968 to 1974 at CHR and laid the groundwork for what is today Kaiser Permanente Dental.

Additional CHR researchers and staff working on the Data Coordinating Center grant are Reesa Laws; Suzanne Gillespie, MA, MS; Meredith Vandermeer, MPH; Kim Funkhouser; Morgan Fuoco; Stephanie Hodge, MA; Lisa Waiwaiole, MS; Sara Gille, MPH; Matthew Hornbrook; Kelly Kirk; and Kristina Booker. Working on the Western Region network are Lisa Waiwaiole, MS; Natalia Tommasi, MS; Celeste Machen; Sacha Reich; and Kim Stewart, MPH.

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