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Slavkin To Leave NIDCR in July

Dr. Harold Slavkin, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, will resign his position in July 2000. He joined the institute in August 1995 on an extended leave of absence from the University of Southern California, where he served as director of the Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology. He will return to Los Angeles to become dean of USC's School of Dentistry, his alma mater.

As NIDCR's sixth director, he spearheaded many advances during his tenure, including the development of an institute strategic plan, "Facing the Future," which formulates several initiatives to be realized over 5 years. Under the plan, the institute has continued to expand its research portfolio, which includes areas of study as diverse as oral cancer, the genetic causes of craniofacial defects, the link between oral and systemic disease, and biomimetics and tissue engineering.

NIDCR director Dr. Harold Slavkin holds the "Freddie" statue awarded to the institute for its film "Openwide: Celebrating 50 Years at the NIDR." Time Inc. Health honored "Openwide" with a first prize — the coveted "Freddie" — in the category of dentistry at the 1999 International Health & Medical Film Competition. Designed to elicit a feeling of excitement about research, the film presents images in a fast-paced format and features comments by Slavkin; Dr. Robert Ledley, a dentist and inventor of the whole body CT scanner; Walter Cronkite, renowned news anchor, whose father and grandfather were dentists; and Ruth Kanthula, a college student pursuing a career in science. The film premiered at the institute's 50th anniversary celebration held at the National Building Museum in June 1998.

Slavkin restructured the institute's extramural and intramural programs to align their components with NIDCR's major areas of scientific interest, ensuring that the programs are able to take full advantage of new research opportunities. Additionally, he expanded the use of research centers, creating six Centers of Discovery, where multidisciplinary teams of scientists address research problems by integrating basic, clinical and behavioral sciences with epidemiology, technology transfer, and public and professional education.

He appointed a panel that produced a plan for ensuring the education and training of outstanding oral health researchers for the 21st century, created an Office of Education within the institute's intramural research program, and, at the NIH level, chaired the trans-NIH committee for recruitment of a diverse workforce in medical research. The committee's final report, dubbed the "Slavkin Report," calls for expanding recruitment, retention and promotion efforts; identifying and removing barriers to full participation in biomedical research; and challenging private industry and nonprofit groups to support education in science for individuals underrepresented in the research arena.

Under Slavkin's leadership, the institute has strengthened its commitment to improving the oral health of underserved populations in the U.S. NIDCR is also taking the lead role in producing the first-ever Surgeon General's Report on Oral Health, a document that will offer recommendations on improving the oral health of all Americans.

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