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The ADA Foundation uses research to improve the oral health of the public and advance the science of dentistry through collaborations with government, industry and the dental profession. Please see the below program descriptions and guidelines for complete information, and check this website for updates.

Research is one of the four pillars of the ADA Foundation. The other pillars are Charitable AssistanceAccess to Care, and Education.

ADA Foundation Volpe Research Center

The ADA Foundation Volpe Research Center is active in the fields of biomaterials and biomineralization, molecular and cell biology, and clinical science and therapies, and also in standards-related activities. We emphasize a strong applied research program with a focus on scientific collaboration by working closely with industry to translate new technologies into clinical and over-the-counter products. Our projects target technologies that meet the needs of patients, but also fit within the oral care delivery system and the industries that serve it.

For complete information, visit the ADA Foundation Volpe Research Center area of this website. 

ADA Foundation Research-related Educational Opportunities

The ADA Foundation offers a variety of educational opportunities through which young and emerging researchers can explore the world of oral health research. Contact the ADA Foundation at 312.440.2547, or the ADA Foundation Volpe Research Center at 301.975.6806, to learn more.

Colgate Dental Students’ Conference on Research

Purpose: Each year, the ADA Foundation hosts the Colgate Dental Students' Conference on Research in Gaithersburg, Maryland, drawing select students from more than 50 schools in the U.S. and Canada. The goal of this conference is to introduce dental students to industry professionals, as well as scientists from the ADA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and the ADA Foundation Volpe Research Center to raise their awareness of the wide-ranging careers available in oral health research.

Application Period: Spring, 2018. See eligibility requirements, below.

Eligibility Requirements: The Colgate Dental Students’ Conference on Research welcomes one student representative from each dental school in the U.S. and Canada who has not previously attended the program. This student representative is typically selected by the school’s Dean, and is someone who is either actively involved in a research project or has expressed an interest in a research career. Space is limited. Priority is given to new students who have not previously experienced the program.

Dollar Amount of Support to Attendees: Student attendees are fully funded by the ADA Foundation except for a $600 contribution made by each student's school.

Crest Oral B logo

ADA Foundation Crest and Oral-B Promising Researcher Award

To apply: Complete an application here: You may use this worksheet to prepare (PDF). You will be taken to a third party website to complete the application.

Purpose: The ADA Foundation Crest and Oral-B Promising Researcher Award promotes and recognizes excellence in oral health research by providing financial assistance for promising researchers to pursue a career in research that advances preventive dentistry.

Application Period: The application period opens the first Friday in April. Applications must be received by the last Friday in June. Applicants will receive notice of the outcome of the selection process in September.

Eligibility Requirements: The minimum qualifications for those nominated include degree candidates who conduct oral health research in preventive dentistry while enrolled in one of the following degree programs at an eligible institution*:

  • D.D.S. or D.M.D.
  • D.D.S./D.M.D. and Ph.D. dual degree
  • Ph.D. or equivalent
  • M.P.H., M.S. or equivalent

*Eligible institution is an accredited public, nonprofit, or privately owned profit making college, university, vocational school, or postsecondary education institution that is eligible to participate in a student aid program administer by the U.S. Department of Education.

Dollar Amount and Number of Awards: One award of $5,000 annually. The award funds can be used to pay for expenses to attend and/or to present at scientific conference(s), including registration fees, travel expenses, meals, and lodging, if applicable. With the approval from the selection committee, the award money may also can be used to cover the research related expenses. A written summary of how the award funds would be used by the applicant must accompany the application at the time of submission.

Summer Scholars Fellowship Program

Purpose: The Dr. Anthony Volpe Research Center annually appoints one or two young investigators to its Summer Scholars Fellowship Program. Since its inception in 1940, the program has been a way to apply classroom and lab experience to real world scenarios. Currently supported by the ADA Foundation and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the program has given many talented students (undergraduate and dental school) the chance to participate in basic research at the VRC, as well as gain hands-on experience in the clinical theater; working side-by-side with their mentors, while becoming part of the research process.

Application Period: The application period will open in late December, 2015 and usually closes in late January. Please email for information.

Eligibility: Individuals interested in learning more about the program or application process are invited to contact the Summer Scholars Fellowship Program coordinator, Gretchen Duppins at

Dollar Amount and Number of Fellowships: Varies

Dr. Ray Bowen Student Research Award

Purpose: The ADA Foundation offers the Dr. Ray Bowen Student Research Award in odd-numbered years in collaboration with the Academy of Operative Dentistry. This student research award honors Dr. Ray Bowen, the inventor of resin composites and dentin adhesives, and an internationally recognized authority on composite materials. Dr. Bowen is a former Director of the ADA Foundation's Paffenbarger Research Center and is presently active as Distinguished Scientist at the research center on the campus of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Application Period: The application period will open in mid-2018. Check back in December, 2017 for more information.

Eligibility: The award is open to dental students at all levels who wish to undertake novel research relevant to contemporary operative dentistry.

Dollar Amount and Number of Awards: The award is presented every two years and provides $6,000 to support the proposed research and up to $1,000 to defray the cost of the winner's attendance at the Academy of Operative Dentistry's scientific session to present a table clinic based on the proposed research.

Intel® International Science and Engineering Fair® – Special Awards

Purpose: The ADA Foundation is a Special Award Organization sponsor for the annual Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a partnership between Society for Science & the Public and the Intel Foundation, through which students in the ninth through twelfth grades can win a variety of prizes including scholarships, summer internships, equipment grants and trips.

Application Period: Winners are selected from among those presenting during the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, by judges appointed by the ADA Foundation.

Eligibility: The Award is open to any student who is presenting during the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Dollar Amount and Number of Awards: The ADA Foundation provides cash prizes totaling $3,500 for outstanding projects related to dentistry and oral health – one first-place award valued at $2,000; one second-place award valued at $1,000; and one third-place award valued at $500.

The winners of the ADA Foundation’s Special Awards at the 2017 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair are:

Matthew Staten, Bonneville High School, Washington Terrace, Utah
First Award - $2,000
“The Effect of Antibacterial Toothpaste on the Ecology of Oral Flora”

Adam Snowden, Ponte Vedra High School, Ponte Vedra, Florida
Second Award - $1,000
“The Effect of Wnt/Beta-Catenin Signaling Inhibition on Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma”

Neil Khurana, Fayetteville-Manlius High School, Manlius, New York
Third Award - $500
“Discovery of Highly-Correlated Circadian Oscillations in Oral MicroRNA and Microbiome Levels Using Next Generation Sequencing of Human Saliva: Implications for Human Health and Disease”



Join the ADA Foundation in our efforts to improve the public’s oral health.

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Make a tax-deductible donation to the ADA Foundation to support research being conducted at the Volpe Research Center. Thank you.