Table 1

NIDR (1948–98) and NIDCR (1998-present) directors and their accomplishments

H. Trendley Dean, 1948–53. Provided first leadership for dental research at National Institutes of Health (NIH) (1931); appointed director of Dental Research Section (1945); became first director of National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) (1948); provided for oversight by National Advisory Dental Research Council; awarded first extramural dental research grants and fellowships; supported research on mottled enamel and fluoride, fluorosis, and prevention of dental caries by fluoride and water fluoridation; established intramural research units for basic and clinical science; created an intramural section for epidemiology and biometry; advocated for integration of dental health into mainstream medical research.
Francis A. Arnold Jr., 1953–66. With H. Trendley Dean, led Grand Rapids, MI, fluoridation study that established water fluoridation as a safe, effective, and economical way to prevent dental caries; established first Board of Scientific Counselors to provide advice to the director for intramural research program; established intramural Laboratory of Biochemistry; provided oversight for intramural building and laboratory facilities of intramural research program; encouraged U.S. dental faculty members to apply for research grants; expanded NIDR research to dental materials, human genetics, and oral medicine; funded first multidisciplinary cleft palate study.
Seymour J. Kreshover, 1966–75. Previously served as scientific director of NIDR’s intramural research program; enhanced grants in the neurosciences, pain research, caries prevention through National Caries Program (a merger of both intramural and extramural programs), and craniofacial research and cleft palate reconstruction; enabled formation of intramural Laboratory of Oral Medicine, Laboratory of Microbiology, and expanded research investments in periodontal diseases, autoimmune diseases. and allergic disorders; expanded intramural research and grants to include pain research and anesthesiology, as well as behavioral sciences.
Clair L. Gardner (Acting), 1975.
David B. Scott, 1976–81. Expanded extramurally supported research in periodontal diseases and oral and pharyngeal cancer; enhanced both intramural and extramural capacity to conduct clinical studies; stimulated expansion of grants in behavioral and social sciences; established intramural Diagnostic Systems Branch to study noninvasive diagnostic techniques; established intramural Clinical Investigations and Patient Care branch to coordinate and integrate patient treatment with clinical research conducted elsewhere in NIDR and NIH; supported first consensus development conference on dental implants.
Harald Loe, 1983–94. Established Epidemiology and Oral Disease Prevention Program to include periodontal and other diseases of the oral cavity; established Dental Scientist Award program to enhance clinical research; expanded extramural dental research to include research centers in collective fields of oral biology, oral and craniofacial diseases and disorders, and minority oral health; initiated first national surveys of U.S. adult oral health and children’s caries; initiated programs of continuing dental education and public information to translate research findings; established World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Dental Research and Training.
Dushanka V. Kleinman (Acting), 1994–95.
Harold C. Slavkin, 1995–2000. Engineered renaming NIDR as National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) to reflect expanded research mission; promoted research in developmental biology, genetics, oral complications of HIV/AIDS, and oral health needs of minority and vulnerable populations; encouraged scientists outside of dentistry to focus on structure and function of oral and craniofacial area; reached out to dental profession, patients’ groups, and the public to promote communication of NIDCR research findings; facilitated NIDCR leadership in Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General, the first of its kind dedicated solely to oral health.
Lawrence A. Tabak, 2000–10. Increased support for research on oral health disparities, neuroscience of chronic pain, head and neck cancer, Phase III clinical trials, genomics (including genome-wide association studies), systems biology of salivary glands and diagnostic potential of saliva; supported creation of dental practice-based research network and a formal Dentist Scientist Training Program for concomitant Doctor of Dental Surgery/Doctor of Philosophy degree training; fostered interdisciplinary research as co-chair of NIH Roadmap program on Research Teams of the Future; helped lead NIH initiative to enhance peer review; served as acting deputy director of NIH (November 2008–spring 2009).
A. Isabel Garcia (Acting), 2010–11.
Martha J. Somerman, 2011-present. Provides leadership for NIH Pain Consortium; enhances quality for practice-based research network; renovated the NIDCR Dental Clinic; provided leadership for NIDCR Strategic Planning 2014–19; provides advocacy for biomedical research workforce panel, precision medicine and dentistry initiative, issues related to health literacy and health disparities, and increasing budget to over $400 million per year.
  • Sources of information: Guttman JL. The evolution of America’s scientific advancements in dentistry in the past 150 years. J Am Dent Assoc 2009;140(9 Suppl):8S–15S; Harris RR. Dental science in a new age: a history of the National Institute of Dental Research. Rockville, MD: Montrose Press, 1989; and Slavkin HC. Birth of a discipline: craniofacial biology. Newtown, PA: Aegis Communications, 2012.