The Dental Scientist Training Program (DSTP), also known as the D.M.D./Ph.D. program, is one of only 13 such programs supported by a National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Health training grant. It is also financially and administratively supported by the Colleges of Dental Medicine and Graduate Studies. The program is designed to facilitate the development of superior students into individuals who can provide the innovative leadership required in oral health sciences. The integrated program provides the training for the attainment of both the D.M.D. and Ph.D. degrees. Accordingly, the program seeks to incorporate the best qualities of the dental and graduate programs into a cohesive whole and to foster exceptional training in both clinical and research areas.
The DSTP consists of faculty members drawn from both basic and clinical sciences departments. The program directors with internal and external steering committees are responsible for the operation of the program. The primary purpose of such an administrative structure is to guide the Dental Scientist Training Program and its participants toward the highest quality of intellectual curiosity and the accomplishment of academic excellence.
The DSTP is an integrated program with both the D.M.D. and Ph.D. degrees conferred upon a student at the very end of the program, and only upon successful completion of the program. The curriculum is essentially the same curriculum for the D.M.D. and the Ph.D. programs, just integrated. Since DSTP students begin with the first year of D.M.D. training, they begin the dental school didactic curriculum in June, ahead of traditional Fall academic year start dates. DSTP students begins with 1 year of dental school, followed by 3-4 years of research, and then the final 3 years of the dental school curriculum. This paradigm helps students concentrate on their research and/or clinical work for better retention and offers a more satisfactory blend of academic and patient experiences. Additionally, dental students need continuity in their clinical training to maintain the skills acquired during their 2nd year of preclinical, laboratory-based dental classes. To stimulate and promote integration of the basic research skills and interests likely to be acquired during the years of PhD training, we provide 2 opportunities for DSTP students, during the clinical training, to gain knowledge about and actively participate in clinical and translational research through the Month in the Research Nexus and the Translational Sciences Clinic. DSTP students differ in the amount of time needed to complete their training; the average – based on 10 graduates to date – is 8.1 years.