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DHSRU@30 – Anniversary Conference
West Park Conference Centre, Dundee - December 2008

In December 2008, the Dental Health Services Research Unit (DHSRU) held a birthday conference in Dundee to celebrate 30 years of high quality dental health services research conducted or supervised by the Unit. The 68 delegates who attended were invited to consider the past, present, and future development of research and innovation within the dental health services, together with DHSRU’s part in this, and the challenges of encouraging clinicians to keep their clinical practice abreast of and in line with good clinical evidence stemming from that research.

Principal of the University of Dundee Welcomes Delegates to the Conference

The Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Dundee University, Sir Alan Langlands, welcomed delegates to the 30th anniversary conference and explained how, with his background as Chief Executive of the NHS in England (1994-2000) and in strategic health service management, he fully supports and endorses the continued need for good quality research to support improvements in the delivery of health care. DHSRU, he explained, has made a valuable contribution to this and has an important continuing role to play.


Dental HSR - activities over the last 30 years: Introduced by Professor Pitts

DHSRU was established, initially as the Dental Health Services Research Group, on 1st January 1979 in Offices at the University of Dundee’s Dental School, following a successful bid for funding from the Chief Scientist Organisation of the Scottish Office Home and Health Department in 1978. The first director of DHSRG was Dr. Richard J Elderton who led the Group with a remit to study patterns of delivery of dental care in Scotland and identify factors of importance in achieving dental health: this remit being based on the recommendations of a report to the Chief Scientist of a group led by Ashley Miller in 1976. Richard (as Prof. Elderton) resigned his position at the end of July 1985 and was succeeded, in December of that year, by the current director Dr. (now Professor) Nigel B Pitts.


From a modest beginning with a small research group and three research studies which formed the basis of the original research proposal, the Group/Unit has grown in manpower and breadth of investigation and now has a wide portfolio of local, national, and international collaborative research topics. For further details of current research please view the Annual Report. The Unit has evolved to meet the changing needs of the NHS in Scotland and has made long term contributions in the areas of dental epidemiology and public health, caries diagnosis and management, and, in particular, to practice-based dental research and evidence based dentistry.


Panel Discussion - a.m.

Professor Nigel Pitts, DHSRU Director - Capacity Development – DHSRU as a launchpad, chairs an open discussion at the end of the morning session. With him are the other speakers (from left to right) Dr Chris Longbottom, Programme Methodologist, DHSRU - The early years of DHSRU – PhDs and evidence for “Childsmiles”; Professor Martin Chalkley, University of Dundee - Routine Dental Data - Economics and Workforce Information; Professor David Ricketts, Dundee Dental Hospital & School - Clinical Caries Management – Conventional or Novel Approaches; Professor Chris Deery, University of Sheffield - Research into Dental Practice (or life in a Mobile Home); Mr Martyn Merrett, Consultant DPH, NHS Tayside - Master’s Projects, Epidemiology, and Inspections

Dr. Morag Curnow, Clinical Dental Director with NHS Tayside in discussion with Mr. Alan Gerrish (left), senior salaried GDP in NHS Highland and Mr. Robert Naysmith, Clinical Director with NHS Lothian.

Miss Stephanie Chambers, who joined DHSRU recently to work on a project focused on the reduction of dental caries in children in deprived communities (DAPER), talks about coming to Dundee to live and work with Professor Martin Pippard, Dean of the University of Dundee's Medical School.

In the background (from left to right) are Professor Irene Leigh, Vice-Principal of the University of Dundee, Dr. Dafydd Evans, University of Dundee Dental School, and Mr. Steve Turner, a Senior Research Fellow in DHSRU.

Dr. Douglas Stirling, Programme Manager of the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme and Dr. Alan Lamb, Director of the British Dental Association in Scotland.

Panel Discussion - p.m.

Professor Frank Sullivan – Director CPSRE, University of Dundee and nearest to front of image, chairs an open discussion on the topics of the afternoon presentations. With him (right to left) are Dr Gail Topping, Programme Director, DHSRU Dental Caries Control Programme - Caries Detection, Assessment and Management: The FiCTION Trial; Dr Jan Clarkson, Programme Director, DHSRU Effective Dental Practice Programme - Evidence, Education, and Knowledge Transfer; Professor Ruth Freeman Programme Director, DHSRU Oral Health and Health Research Programme - Promoting Well-being in Socially Excluded Groups: A role for Oral Health?; Professor Nigel Pitts Director, DHSRU - Strategic Framework: for now and for the future.


Conference Speakers

Back row left to right: David Ricketts, Chris Longbottom, Martin Chalkley, Chris Deery, Martyn Merrett.
Front row: Jan Clarkson, Nigel Pitts, Alan Langlands, Ruth Freeman, Gail Topping


Programme Directors

DHSRU's three programme directors (from left to right) e Dr Gail Topping, Programme Director, DHSRU Dental Caries Control Programme; Dr Jan Clarkson, Programme Director, DHSRU Effective Dental Practice Programme; Professor Ruth Freeman Programme Director, DHSRU Oral Health and Health Research Programme - flanked by the University Principal, Sir Alan Langlands and DHSRU Director Professor Nigel Pitts.


DHSRU retains a unique position in dentistry, in the UK and internationally, by maintaining a long-term portfolio of projects focusing on matters of importance to the health services and the providers of routine dental care. The rich history and 'corporate memory' of its core staff, combined with a mature network of local and international collaborators, enables DHSRU to exploit synergies and deliver a range of dental research in key priority areas to high methodological standards.

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