Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Dental Medicine in Pomona on September 8 announced it had received a five-year, $1.5 million follow-on federal grant to provide dental students with training in underserved and rural communities and to provide care to vulnerable populations.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration continues and expands upon a previous grant that expired in June. That earlier five-year grant was to train predoctoral dental students in providing care to vulnerable children up to age 5 and children with special health care needs in rural and underserved areas.
The new grant expands on this foundation by facilitating the provision of care to patients along the entire lifespan, not just children. The grant period began in July and runs through June 2027.
“Our college values center around fulfilling professional obligations to improve the oral health of all members of society, especially those most in need,” Elizabeth Andrews, the college’s new dean and an associate professor at the college, said in the announcement.
“This grant demonstrates that our faculty, students, and staff live this mission and are dedicated to building health equity for communities near and far,” Andrews added. “I applaud the continued efforts that our community-based dental education team take to make this vision a reality.”
Western University of Health Sciences was founded in Pomona in 1977 and has grown to eight colleges.
The university has also added a second campus in Lebanon, Oregon, which is southeast of the state capital at Salem.
The College of Dental Medicine is one of the newer schools at the university, established in 2009. It has grown to an enrollment of about 290 students and has 69 faculty members. Andrews took over as dean last month, succeeding Steven Friedrichsen, who held the post for 11 years before retiring.
As for the new grant, the college intends to expand the range of treatment experiences available to enrolled students.
“We are collaborating with our community partners to provide our students with more experiences caring for patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Marisa Watanabe, a professor and associate dean for community partnerships and access to care, said in the announcement.