Application Period Open for the Student Advocate of the Year Award

The application period is open for The Student Advocate of the Year Award. This award allows AADR, the NSRG and the AADR Government Affairs Committee to recognize a student for outstanding contributions in advocacy for oral health research. The recipient will receive travel and a one night hotel accommodation for participation in the 2017 February 28, 2017 AADR and Friends of National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (FNIDCR) Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill program. Students may nominate him/herself or be nominated by another AADR member.

To apply, visit the AADR website, complete the application form and brief essay questions by January 13, 2017.

Questions about this award may be directed to AADR Director of Government Affairs Carolyn Mullen at cmullen@aadr.org.

Nationwide injunction issued against overtime rule; postdoc salary raises in jeopardy

A Texas judge has issued a nationwide injunction against the Department of Labor’s new Fair Labor and Standards Act rule that was expected to make millions of Americans eligible for overtime pay. Announced in May, the overtime rule would have raised the minimum salary for receiving overtime pay from $23, 660 to $47,476. The rule was intended to either raise wages or allow employees to spend more time with their families by working fewer hours. The overtime rule was of particular interest to postdocs, who anticipated a salary increase, and was supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) director, Dr. Francis Collins. AADR reported on the rule when it was finalized in an earlier blog post.

Over 20 states and 50 business organizations opposed the rule and filed for a preliminary injunction. On Tuesday, district court Judge Amos Mazzant ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. Judge Mazzant ruled that the overtime rule was illegal because the original intent of Congress in making exemptions to the overtime rule was based upon the duties of the employee – the so-called executive, administrative, and professional, or EAP, exemption for “white collar” work – and not upon the employee’s salary. The court ruled that by raising the salary threshold, the Department of Labor made salary the primary criteria for exemption rather than the employee’s duties, violated the original intent of Congress, and thus overstepped its authority. The plaintiffs were able to sufficiently demonstrate that they would incur significant costs that they would be unable to recoup if the rule was implemented on December 1. Therefore, Judge Mazzant issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the rule from going into force until the validity of the rule can be decided in a future court case.

The Department of Labor released the following statement expressing its disagreement with the ruling:

“We strongly disagree with the decision by the court, which has the effect of delaying a fair day’s pay for a long day’s work for millions of hardworking Americans. The department’s overtime rule is the result of a comprehensive, inclusive rulemaking process, and we remain confident in the legality of all aspects of the rule. We are currently considering all of our legal options.” (Source: NPR.org)

Dr. Gary McDowell, executive director of advocacy group Future of Research, is tracking how universities are responding to the new overtime rule. Some universities are choosing to delay plans to increase postdoc salaries while others are forging ahead.

The NIH, which previously released a notice of adjustment to postdoc salaries in compliance with the overtime rule, will push forward with raising salaries in spite of the injunction.

Please continue to follow AADR as this story continues to develop.

AADR Partners with Research!America on Public Health Thank You Day!

AADR is proud to partner with Research!America as part of the Public Health Thank You Day to recognize the tireless work of public health professionals who translate important research findings into practice to improve the oral health of the nation. We would like to thank the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Oral Health; state, county and local health departments and public health dentists for their work to reduce disparities, expand access to effective prevention programs and educate the public about the value of water fluoridation and dental sealants.

One of the greatest public health achievements of all time is water fluoridation and the resulting dramatic decline in dental caries (tooth decay or cavities). Today fluoridation of the water supplies is one of the most effective and least expensive measures to prevent tooth decay, which has greatly improved the oral health of Americans. According to CDC for communities of more than 20,000 people where it costs about 50 cents per person to fluoridate the water, every $1 invested in this preventive measure yields approximately $38 in savings in dental treatments.

Additionally, pit and fissure dental sealants are polymeric materials that are applied to the occlusal surfaces of teeth, which do not benefit from the caries-preventive effects of fluoride to the same extent as smooth surfaces. Dental caries, one of the most common diseases of childhood, occurs predominantly as carious lesions in pits and fissures of teeth. A large percentage of occlusal surfaces can remain caries-free for up to ten years or more after a single application of a sealant. There is strong evidence supporting the effectiveness of sealants for the prevention of dental caries. Furthermore, studies show that incipient carious lesions that remain sealed do not progress.  According to the CDC, while the overall number of children with sealants has increased over time, low-income children are 20% less likely to have them and two times more likely to have untreated cavities than higher –income children. Therefore, it is vitally important to continue to increase the utilization of dental sealants by practitioners.

While today we celebrate these advances and thank many public health champions, there is still much work to be done. AADR remains firmly committed to supporting research, data, public health programs and other initiatives to improve the oral health for all Americans.

U.S. Election Concludes

November 9, 2016 (Alexandria, VA) – Yesterday the American people elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th U.S. President to take office January 20th, 2017.  The American Association for Dental Research’s (AADR) top advocacy priority is funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and specifically the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).  AADR and our partners under Friends of NIDCR look forward to working with the new Administration and Congress to communicate the importance of biomedical research for the health of the American people.  Please check back on the AADR Government Affairs Blog as further details on key appointments in the new Administration and on Congressional committees become known.

From an International Association for Dental Research (IADR) perspective, we will continue to advocate for the important role the U.S. has regarding global health, supporting the World Health Organization, the goals of the United Nations Noncommunicable Diseases Summit and the UN initiative on Sustainable Development Goals.  As we strive towards our mission of advancing research and increasing knowledge for the improvement of oral health worldwide, IADR and AADR are committed to our diverse membership and will always be an inclusive community of oral, dental, and craniofacial researchers for membership, meetings, and our publications.

Christopher H. Fox, DMD, DMSc
Executive Director, IADR/AADR

AADR Submits Comments on the 2018 National Health Interview Survey Questionnaire Redesign

Today, AADR submitted a letter regarding the 2018 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) questionnaire redesign. In our letter we supported the continuation of dental care topics; encouraged the addition of a question about the general oral health status and urged the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) to include a question about tooth under the rotating core content for chronic pain. According to NCHS, “Feedback about these questionnaires is at the early stage of development and will be critical as we continue to revise and improve the content and question text during the redesign process.”

 

For more information about the NHIS Redesign Visit:  http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/2018_quest_redesign.htm

Cancer Moonshot Takes Aim at Tobacco and HPV-related Cancers

The recently released Cancer Moonshot Task Force report to President Barack Obama outlines strategies for increasing prevention of tobacco- and human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancers. Citing the high number of tobacco-linked cancer deaths and low utility of the HPV vaccine among adolescents, the Task Force will seek to unite federal agencies and work with local and state governments to increase access to preventative care and services.

The Task Force plans to reduce tobacco-related cancer deaths by increasing access to smoking cessation programs. In 2009, the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program reported a 26% decrease in smoking prevalence among Medicaid recipients in just 2.5 years. Taking this program as a model, the Task Force will combat smoking in the Medicaid population by increasing health promotion, counseling, and access to medications and by lowering financial barriers to care. One of the mechanisms by which the Task Force hopes to achieve meaningful declines in smoking is through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) 6|18 Initiative, which endeavors to reduce the prevalence of 6 high-burden health conditions, including tobacco use, by utilizing 18 evidence-based interventions.

The Task Force also plans to increase uptake of the HPV vaccine through the National HPV Vaccination Roundtable, a continuing partnership between the CDC and the American Cancer Society that began in 2014. The HPV vaccine is primarily targeted to 11 and 12-year-olds. According to the Task Force report, only 42% of girls and less than 30% of boys have receive the vaccine. The Task Force will increase awareness of HPV-related cancers and the benefits of the vaccine among healthcare providers and the public. The Task Force will conduct immunization surveillance and send reminders about the vaccine through the Immunization Information System, a confidential immunizations database run by the CDC.

Current evidence shows decreased oral infection rates by HPV-16, the strain associated with oropharyngeal cancer, in those who receive the HPV vaccine. Studies assessing a cancer preventative effect are not yet available.

The Cancer Moonshot is a $1 billion effort to double the rate of progress of cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The Moonshot was announced in President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address and is led by Vice President Joe Biden. Other strategies outlined in the report center around driving scientific discovery, data sharing, public-private partnerships, multidisciplinary research, and patient-centered care.

National Academies of Science Hosts Workshop on the State of Regenerative Medicine

The Forum on Regenerative Medicine of the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) of the National Academies of Science held a workshop entitled, “State of the Science in the Field of Regenerative, Medicine: Challenges of and Opportunities for Cellular Therapies”. Experts and stakeholders in academic and industry research, patient advocacy, and law and ethics addressed both the promise and challenge of regenerative medicine.

Cell, tissue, and organ damage due to illness, injury, or aging is a growing health concern. Regenerative therapies for craniofacial, neurological, and muscular tissues damaged from tumors or injury could change the course of painful, debilitating, and even fatal diseases. Scientists have made key discoveries, such as cell reprogramming, that have propelled regenerative medicine forward, but formidable scientific, technological, and regulatory hurdles remain.

Lorenz Studer of the Sloan Kettering Institute discussed challenges with verifying cell types, understanding the stages of cell maturation most compatible with transplantation, accurately recapitulating human physiology and pathology in animal models, coaxing cells to adopt a three-dimensional architecture and to communicate with each other and different cell types, and overcoming the persistent threat of host rejection. Furthermore, for these therapies to become commercially viable, researchers will have to overcome manufacturing challenges in scalability, reproducibility, and quality control that will require significant technological advances, workforce training, and financial investments.

A persistent theme through the workshop was the length of time required for significant advances to occur. Studer recounted his two-decade journey in dopamine neuron regeneration for the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease. Ultimately, Studer and colleagues were able to graft the neurons into a mouse model of Parkinson’s Disease and demonstrate symptomatic relief. Anthony Oro of Stanford University described a similar 18-year effort in skin regeneration for the treatment of epidermolysis bullosa, a potentially fatal connective tissue disorder that can result in severe and painful blistering and squamous cell carcinoma. Currently, Oro’s work is in early-phase, proof-of-concept clinical trials.

Pat Furlong, President of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, gave a particularly compelling presentation from the perspective of a patient advocate. Furlong integrated current challenges and pitfalls of regenerative therapies in muscular dystrophy with her personal story of losing two sons to the disease. Furlong stressed the importance of exercising caution and restraint when communicating with patients and relatives about therapies still in the experimental stage.

NIDCR houses an active program in tissue engineering and regeneration and director Martha Somerman is a forum member. Furthermore, several AADR members are actively involved in and making significant contributions to regenerative research for periodontal disease, temporomandibular joint disorders, and other diseases of the dental, oral, and craniofacial complexes. AADR staff will continue to monitor and communicate future HMD activities in regenerative medicine.

 

Dental Quality Alliance Seeks Comments on Proposed Performance Measures

The Dental Quality Alliance (DQA) of the American Dental Association is seeking comments on the proposed measures in their interim report entitled, “Testing DQA Adult Dental Quality Measures”, before finalizing these measures in December.  The report outlines oral healthcare performance measures based on claims data for the following:

  • Periodontal Evaluation for Adults with Chronic Periodontitis
  • Ongoing Care in Adults with Chronic Periodontitis
  • Topical Fluoride Application for Adults at Elevated Caries Risk

The Executive Summary provides a helpful and concise table of the proposed measures. A table of descriptions of the codes in the Executive Summary are listed below. It should be noted that the Executive Summary includes other criteria for determining the respective measures. Please send any comments on the proposed measures to Seun Ajiboye at sajiboye@iadr.org by COB on October 20, 2016 to assist AADR in developing a response.

 

Markers for Chronic Periodontitis
Code Description
D4240 Gingival flap (4 or more teeth/quad)
D4241 Gingival flap (1-3 teeth/quad)
D4260 Osseous surgery (4 or more teeth/ quad)
D4261 Osseous surgery (1-3 teeth/quad)
D4341 Scaling and root planing (4 or more teeth/quad)
D4342 Scaling and root planing (1-3 teeth/quad)
D4910 periodontal maintenance

 

Markers for Periodontal Evaluation
Code Description
D0180 comprehensive periodontal evaluation – new or established patient
D0120 periodic oral evaluation – established patient
D0150 comprehensive oral evaluation – new or established patient

 

Markers for Ongoing Care
Code Description
D1110 prophylaxis – adult
D4910 periodontal maintenance
D4341 periodontal scaling and root planing – four or more teeth per quadrant
D4342 periodontal scaling and root planing – one to three teeth per quadrant

 

Markers for Elevated Caries Risk
Code Description
D0602 Caries risk assessment & documentation, with a finding of moderate risk
D0603 Caries risk assessment & documentation, with a finding of high risk

 

Markers for Topical Fluoride Application
Code Description
D1206 topical application of fluoride varnish
D1208 Topical application of fluoride – excluding varnish

AADR Members Accept the Advocacy Challenge

During the summer AADR issued an Advocacy Challenge calling on our members to meet with members of Congress during the summer recess period. Members of Congress need to hear from their constituents about the value and importance of dental, oral and craniofacial research because they will be making critical funding decisions this fall. AADR members Dr. Ben Franklin Warner from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Dentistry met with Sen. Cruz (R-TX) staff. Also, dental students Elizabeth Guirado and Adam Parikh from Illinois met with Sen. Durbin’s (D-IL) staff.

Jessica Hart, Deputy Director of the Southeast Region for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) met with the University of Texas Health Science Center of Houston School of Dentistry researchers

Jessica Hart, Deputy Director of the Southeast Region for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) met with the University of Texas Health Science Center of Houston School of Dentistry researchers

Dr. Warner reported that approximately a dozen members from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Dentistry discussed the importance of increased Congressional funding for NIH, NIDCR, and the concern with student debt and the workforce.

“We emphasized that current funding decisions not only have immediate effects, but also have long-range impact on the next generation of researchers, clinicians as well as the health of all Americans. The staff expressed that they were impressed with our research and clinic facilities during the tour of our buildings. They indicated that as a result of our meeting, they became more aware of the importance of dental research,” Dr. Warner stated.

Elizabeth Guirado,  Tran Nguyen, aide for Sen. Durbin (D-IL) and Adam Parikh

Elizabeth Guirado, Tran Nguyen, aide for Sen. Durbin (D-IL) and Adam Parikh

The Illinois dental students also encouraged Sen. Durbin to support funding for NIH and NIDCR. After their meeting, Elizabeth Guirado stated, “Adam and I felt very confident that NIH/NIDCR funding was a priority for Senator Durbin  and his staff.” Meeting with members of Congress in their home state is a critical component of successful advocacy campaigns. AADR applauds our members who responded to the call for action and encourage others to engage in this important activity. For more information about how to be involved please contact the AADR Director of Government Affairs Carolyn Mullen by email at cmullen@aadr.org.

AADR Government Affairs Committee & FNIDCR Transition Team Meet with Congress

Dr. Isabel Garcia;   Eduardo Sacasa. Sen. Rubio staff and KyuLim Lee meet on Capitol Hill.

Dr. Isabel Garcia; Eduardo Sacasa. Sen. Rubio staff and KyuLim Lee meet on Capitol Hill.

This week members of the AADR Government Affairs Committee and the Friends of NIDCR transition team conducted 20 meetings with members of Congress. During these meetings they urged Congress to approve a short term continuing resolution through December 9th and then when returning from the election to approve an omnibus appropriations bill that provides $34.1 billion for NIH and $430.5 million for NIDCR. They also articulated the devastating impact a six month or year-long CR will have on the biomedical research enterprise.

Reports back from these meetings indicate members of Congress are generally supportive of funding for NIH.