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iConnect News

ATSU-ASDOH receives Robert Wood Johnson Grant to improve access to dental care, student diversity

January 9, 2009
Posted In: ASDOH, Grants & You News

KIRKSVILLE, Mo. (Apr. 18, 2008 ) With a $200,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ASDOH) will build on its efforts to improve the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities (URM) and low-income applicants, particularly African-American students.

To achieve this goal, ASDOH has developed partnerships with several collaborating entities, including the Alabama Medical Education Consortium (AMEC), National Dental Association (NDA), Greater Phoenix Urban League, and ASDOH’s sister schools within ATSU – the Arizona School of Health Sciences and the School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona.

ASDOH’s key objectives will be to strengthen its infrastructure and offer enhanced cultural training, increase and enhance its academic enrichment and mentoring activities to ensure 100 percent retention of URM applicants, and expand its recruitment/pre-admissions programs to enlarge the pool of qualified URM applicants.

Major activities will include cultural/diversity training at ASDOH’s faculty advance, an annual diversity symposium for ASDOH faculty and students, and an affiliation with the NDA. Other activities will include modification of recruitment materials to boost URM interest, pre-admissions workshops for African American students, and ASDOH’s first-ever URM need-based grants/scholarships program. The school also plans to develop a formal academic enrichment program, student tutor training, and a longitudinal mentoring program.

“I am delighted that ATSU-ASDOH has been selected to participate in the second phase of the RWJ Pipeline Grant, which will allow us to further our commitment and effort to recruit a more diverse student population,” said ASDOH Dean Jack Dillenberg, D.D.S. “We have been very successful in attracting men and women who want to work with underserved people, and this grant will help ensure that this caring group of students better reflect the racial mix of the communities we serve.”

The grant is part of phase II of the Profession & Practice: Community-Based Dental Education (Dental Pipeline) program. The first five-year phase of the program, which ended in August 2007, included 15 funded dental schools, which developed service learning programs to enable students to gain a keener understanding of the oral health problems of the underserved living in low-income urban and rural regions of the nation.

The Dental Pipeline program was initially conceived after the U.S. Surgeon General issued the groundbreaking national report in 2000 entitled, “Oral Health in America.” The report showed that while the oral health of Americans improved in the 20th Century, “there was a ‘silent epidemic’ of oral disease affecting poor children, the elderly, and many members of racial and ethnic minorities.” In 2004, the “Sullivan Commission Report: Missing Persons, Minorities in the Health Professions,” noted that only about 200 African Americans and 200 Latinos graduate from dental schools each year (out of more than 4,000 graduates). This “severe and persistent” low representation of minorities in health profession schools is “hardly enough to replace those minority dentists that are dying or retiring,” the report states.

To learn more about ATSU and ASDOH, visit For more information about the program, visit

Grant Recipients

A.T. Still University
Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health

Creighton University
School of Dentistry

Texas A & M Health Science Center
Baylor College of Dentistry

Virginia Commonwealth University
School of Dentistry

Medical College of Georgia Research Institute, Inc.
School of Dentistry

The University of Maryland, Baltimore
College of Dental Surgery

University of Florida
College of Dentistry

University of Medicine and Dentistry
New Jersey Dental School

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