Dental Informatics and Dental Research   Conference, June 12-13, 2003: Making the Connection
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The conference program spanned two conference days (June 12 and June 13, 2003) and began with introductory remarks from Dr. Lawrence Tabak, Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and Dr. Donald Lindberg, Director of the National Library of Medicine. Dr. Robert Ledley, President of the National Biomedical Research Foundation and member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, presented the keynote address.

The subsequent program consisted of three types of events: plenary sessions, breakout sessions and a panel discussion. The presentations fell into one of three categories:

  • research questions, projects and current progress in a specific dental research area;
  • examples of informatics projects that address one or more dental research questions; and
  • presentations of general interest, such as biomedical informatics as a discipline, informatics methods, and standards.

The presentations of general interest were designed to establish a common context for the conference. Partially they were intended to be educational, but also to stimulate questions and discussions among the audience.

Breakout sessions were organized in four tracks:

  • basic research in dentistry
  • clinical research in dentistry
  • behavioral and public health research
  • education in informatics

The program committee realized that any segmentation of dental research as a field would become artificial at some level. Therefore, we were striving for a balance of presentations within each breakout session that reflected the breadth of the topic and the interconnectedness of the different areas. The first three areas reflected the progression of dental research questions from the molecular/cellular to the population/global level. The fourth area focused on the question of what, how, and when dental researchers should learn about informatics.

The breakout sessions divided the participants into groups of 15-20 and were designed to stimulate discussion. Formal presentations will alternated with question-and-answer/discussion periods. Moderators kept a record of issues and questions discussed.

The questions, issues and suggestions emanating from the breakout groups were presented at the beginning of the following day. Thus, the audience developed a shared understanding of all relevant issues that were brought up the day before. The morning of the second day continued with several presentations of general interest. The afternoon covered strategies and priorities of the NIDCR, and discussed challenges for informatics as applied to dental research. These presentations were followed by a panel and audience discussion.

Each presentation is available as a paper in the conference proceedings. In addition, discussions were summarized in an issue/strategy paper.