Colgate-Palmolive $1M Gift to Support Care Center for Persons with Disabilities, Establish Innovation Laboratory


Philadelphia — Penn Dental Medicine has received a $1 million gift from the Colgate-Palmolive Company to help advance patient care through the new Penn Dental Medicine Care Center for Persons with Disabilities and the development of the Colgate Innovation Laboratory there. Through the Innovation Laboratory, to be embedded within the Center, Colgate experts will work side by side with Penn Dental Medicine faculty, students, and researchers throughout the University of Pennsylvania to assess needs and develop and refine new dental products that facilitate optimal dental care for patients with disabilities.

“This dynamic partnership with Colgate-Palmolive, a global leader in oral care, will help Penn Dental Medicine address the diverse dental needs of patients with a full spectrum of disabilities. For some, that may include the creation of entirely new types of personal care products,” says Penn Dental Medicine Dean Mark Wolff. “Together, we will work to make the lives of this underserved population easier and healthier.”

A fall 2020 opening is projected for Penn Dental Medicine’s new Care Center for Persons with Disabilities, to be located within the School’s Robert Schattner Center at 240 S. 40th Street. The 3,500-square-foot Center will be dedicated to providing preventive and interceptive oral health care for patients of all ages living with all forms of disability and is estimated to serve approximately 10,000 patients per year in the 12-chair facility. The Center will be outfitted to serve patients on wheelchairs as well as a gurney. In addition, there will be a stimulation room with low lighting and sound baffling to accommodate patients with sensory sensitivities.

Worldwide, millions of people—as many as 57 million in the United States alone—live with acquired and developmental disabilities. Many lack access to properly trained dentists and dental specialists, and to the equipment and products required for successful treatment. In addition to providing the highest quality of patient care and support, the Center’s comprehensive educational program will train Penn Dental Medicine students to confidently provide safe, effective, and empathetic care to patients with disabilities.

“A key goal of the Center will also be to educate practicing dentists, hygienists, teachers, nurses, and caregivers on how preventive practices and teamwork can improve the quality of life for both the disabled and their families,” adds Dean Wolff. “We plan to develop and report on best practices through targeted publications as well as organized dental and research groups nationwide.” Penn Dental Medicine will also measure the impact of this type of innovation model on student learning and build data on how a prevention-focused approach can improve the care experience, oral health, and quality of life for patients.

“The creation of the Colgate Innovation Laboratory and innovation team at Penn Dental Medicine marks an unprecedented opportunity to help overcome the disparity in oral health care for patients with disabilities by developing innovative, cost-effective products that will improve the quality of their lives,” says Patricia Verduin, Chief Technology Officer at Colgate-Palmolive. “We look forward to joining forces with our esteemed colleagues at Penn Dental Medicine to aid in the development and implementation of novel preventive and therapeutic strategies to address the oral care needs of people with disabilities in collaboration with their caregivers and healthcare providers, ultimately improving their oral and overall health,” says Maria Ryan, Chief Dental Officer at Colgate-Palmolive.