National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Agency overview
FormedSeptember 16, 1948; 75 years ago (1948-09-16)
JurisdictionUnited States Government
Annual budget$485 m USD (2020)[1]
Agency executive
Parent agencyDepartment of Health and Human Services

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) is a branch of the U.S. National Institutes of Health. The institute aims to improve the oral, dental, and craniofacial health through research and the distribution of important health information to the American people.


In 1931, the United States Public Health Service established a Dental Hygiene Unit at the National Institutes of Health. Designated as the first dental research worker, Dr. H. Trendley Dean studied the communities affected by the oral disease known as mottled enamel. Following the implementation of a water fluoridation trial in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR), was established by President Harry S. Truman on June 24, 1948. The first grants and fellowships that supported dental research were awarded the following year.

In an effort to expand the NIDR, plans to finance the construction of a building for the institute were approved by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958. The National Institute of Dental Research also established the Laboratory of Biochemistry to further the research regarding the structure and functions of various proteins. In continuing with this expansion, a grant to develop several dental research facilities at various universities was approved in 1967. This program hoped to establish research and training environments, as well as promote interdisciplinary approaches to combating oral diseases.

In addition to the Laboratory of Biochemistry, other laboratories were established in the years 1974 and 1975. These newly established laboratories focused on the field of oral medicine as well as the fields of microbiology and immunology. Another effort to expand research was implemented a decade later. The Dentist Scientist Award Program aimed to provide dentists with opportunities and incentive to pursue independent research regarding oral health.

In 1986, the most extensive survey on the dental health of American adults was completed by the NIDR. This study was the first to examine oral health diseases on a large and detailed scale. Following this survey, in 1993, the National Oral Health Information Clearinghouse was established. The purpose of this database is to provide resources for health professionals, patients, and the general public regarding oral health. In continuing with its mission to distribute important health information, the NIDR launched its official website in 1996.

Following its 50th anniversary, the NIDR changed its name to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).

In 2001, the NIDCR released its revamped plan to eliminate oral health disparities across the United States. The institute followed up with this plan by establishing five new Centers for Research to Reduce Oral Health Disparities.

A decade later, Martha J. Somerman was appointed as the eighth director of the NIDCR. Through nurturing fundamental research and the development of researchers, the NIDCR aims to promote health, to prevent diseases and conditions, and to develop new diagnostics and therapeutics.

In 2020, Rena D'Souza was selected as the NIDCR's ninth director, replacing Martha Somerman, who had served from 2011 to 2020. D'Souza's tenure as Director began in October 2020 and Jennifer Webster-Cyriaque became the deputy director later that year.[2]


Portrait Director Start date End date
H. Trendley Dean September 17, 1948 March 31, 1953
Francis A. Arnold, Jr. April 1, 1953 February 1966
Seymour J. Kreshover February 1966 June 30, 1975
Clair L. Gardner (Acting) July 1, 1975 December 31, 1975
David B. Scott January 1, 1976 December 31, 1981
John F. Goggins (Acting) January 1, 1982 December 31, 1982
Harald Löe January 1983 June 1, 1994
Dushanka V. Kleinman (Acting) June 1994 June 1995
Harold C. Slavkin July 1995 July 14, 2000
Lawrence A. Tabak September 2000 August 19, 2010
A. Isabel Garcia (Acting) August 19, 2010 August 28, 2011
Martha J. Somerman August 29, 2011 October 12, 2020
Rena D'Souza October 13, 2020 Present

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Congressional Leaders Release FY 2021 Omnibus/COVID-19 Relief Bill". American Association for Dental Research Government Affairs and Science Policy Blog. 2020-12-21.
  2. ^ "Webster-Cyriaque Selected as Deputy Director, NIDCR". NIH. November 21, 2021. Retrieved 2022-02-06.
  3. ^ "NIH Almanac: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research". 9 July 2015.