CiPD Awards Accelerating Oral Health Innovations


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The inaugural CiPD-IBI Artificial Intelligence in Oral Health Innovation Award — one of the three CiPD research funding awards — was presented at the CiPD Symposium in May.

Philadelphia – The Center for Innovation & Precision Dentistry (CiPD), Penn Dental Medicine’s joint center with Penn Engineering, is working to accelerate the development of oral health innovations through its growing number of awards, funding transdisciplinary research collaborations across the University.

Its newest prize is the CiPD-IBI Artificial Intelligence in Oral Health Innovation Award. The IBI (Penn Institute for Biomedical Informatics) within Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, facilitates collaborations among faculty, staff, and students across the campus and teamed with the CiPD to create this new award. The CiPD and IBI-funded award, to be presented annually, provides $25,000 in unrestricted funds to further develop collaborative research using artificial intelligence (AI)-based approaches to advance innovations in oral-craniofacial health sciences. A key goal of this award is to develop transformative solutions while helping generate preliminary data for extramural funding applications and the publication of the collaborative work.

The inaugural recipients of this prize were announced at the CiPD’s 3rd Annual Symposium, held at Penn Dental Medicine in May.  This year’s award recipients are Dr. Flavia Teles, Associate Professor in the Department of Basic & Translational Sciences at Penn Dental Medicine, and Dr. Shefali Setia Verma, Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Perelman School of Medicine, for a project titled “Advancing Periodontal Care: Harnessing AI and Comprehensive Patient Data for the Prediction of Disease Progression.” In their study, they hope to advance periodontal healthcare by harnessing AI-based approaches for integration and analyses of molecular (genetic, immunological), clinical, and demographic (gender, race, ethnicity) data aimed at predicting disease progression.

IDEA Prize recipients

Another CiPD award, now in its third year, is the Innovation in Dental Medicine and Engineering to Advance Oral Health (IDEA) Prize, jointly funded by CiPD and Penn Health-Tech (PHT). The IDEA Prize supports collaborations at the interface of dental medicine and engineering to develop new solutions to study, diagnose, prevent or treat oral diseases, craniofacial disorders, and cancers. The $80,000 award supports collaborative teams investigating novel ideas using broad engineering approaches (from bioengineering, chemical and mechanical engineering to materials and computational sciences) to kick start competitive proposals for federal funding or private sector/industry for commercialization.

The 2024 recipients of the IDEA Prize are Dr. D. Kacy Cullen, Professor of Neurosurgery at Perelman School of Medicine; Dr. Anh Le, Chair and Norman Vine Endowed Professor of Oral Rehabilitation in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery/Pharmacology at Penn Dental Medicine; and Dr. Justin Burrell, a fellow in the CiPD NIDCR T90/R90 Postdoctoral Training Program, for a groundbreaking project titled “Anti-Degenerative Therapeutic for Restoring Immediate and Lasting Recovery Following Nerve Fusion.” The project will apply a revolutionary approach to enhance nerve fusion for patients afflicted with currently intractable craniofacial nerve injuries.

Drs. Ahn Le and Peter Quinn (right) of the Dept. of Oral Surgery, which is creating the RESTORE Prize with the department’s Schoenleber Fund.

A third CiPD award – the RESTORE Prize – will be launching this coming fall. This new award, jointly funded by the CiPD and the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery’s Schoenleber Fund, provides $80,000 to support collaborative teams of faculty, clinicians, and research staff investigating novel ideas using regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, and computational approaches. A major focus will be on the translational potential to improve the treatment and outcomes for patients; while also helping kick start competitive proposals for extramural funding (federal, foundation or private sector/industry) and high-impact publications.