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Aug 4

Strategy workshop held at the Eastman Dental Institute to tackle critical challenges facing oral health

We were delighted to host the Inaugural strategy workshop meeting on Wednesday 12th July 2017 for the Innovation in Oral Health for 21st Century Challenges Flagship Programme.

  • This event was designed to establish a clear roadmap for the future of research into oral health at University College London (UCL) and the Eastman Dental Hospital. It took place at the Eastman Dental Institute, the key link between UCL Faculty of Medical Sciences and the Eastman Dental Hospital. The Institute was established in 1999 and has since built a reputation as a world-leading, research centre.

  • The meeting was attended by over 20 key individuals from the Eastman Dental Institute and the UCL Engineering Faculty, with input from others who were unable to attend in person.

    Structure of the day

    Following an introductory presentation from the Institute of Healthcare Engineering’s Director, the meeting moved on to discuss the critical clinical challenges in oral health today and the first steps were made towards encouraging engagement and collaboration between the clinicians and engineers to find solutions to these.

    The chief priority of the day was to establish a clear strategy document and roadmap for the next 2-5 years. This was in order to ensure a coherent and strategic approach to maximize collaboration opportunities and focus efforts on the most pressing oral health challenges for the 21st Century.

  • Aims and challenges

    Oro facial diseases include a wide group of diseases ranging from highly prevalent chronic infections such as periodontitis and dental caries to chronic pain and cancer. They represent a significant burden on both the individuals, potentially causing pain, dysfunction, tissue loss and even death, and on society with an estimated cost of over £3.5 billion annually.

    This Flagship Programme aims to focus on the development of novel diagnostics and therapeutics to address critical needs within oral health, and to specifically focus on those that pose unique challenges due to current societal factors. The full strategy document will be released in due course, but will likely include issues such as the epidemic tooth decay in young children and the sharp rise in cases of oral cancer, which is up by almost a third since the 1990’s.

    In order to tackle these challenges the group have identified some key research themes. These range from developing improvements to existing clinical practice, such as new diagnostic devices to help prevent disease progression or dental tissue defects through novel oral imaging technique, though to utilizing recent advances in ‘smart’ antimicrobial regenerative materials and nerve regeneration tools, which have the potential to transform outcomes for patients with oral disease or progressed damage.

  • Next Sandpit

    Following this, the team will schedule a sandpit event for November 2017 to facilitate the creation of multi-disciplinary teams. This supports the longer term goal of the Flagship Programme to put forward strong multi-disciplinary funding applications. Please contact Ben & Francesco (healthcare-eng@ucl.ac.uk) to register for pre-interest in this event.