Huge steps have been made in dental medicine. Dentists at the clinics that are part of the UZH Center of Dental Medicine can now make bones and gums regenerate and use dental implants that enable crowns to be fixed firmly in the jaw. “Our goal is to restore the original state as far as possible to improve the patient’s quality of life,” explains Professor Christoph Hämmerle, Director of the Clinic of Fixed and Removable Prosthodontics and Dental Material Science (KBTM) at UZH.
Lack of patients
Thanks to intensive research, Zurich dental specialists are getting closer and closer to this goal. Their work focuses on three main areas: “virtual patients,” in other words digitizing the entire treatment process right up to a virtual reconstruction of the damaged jaw; improving implants; and refining biomaterials enabling the regeneration of the jawbone and gums.
The basis for all this is trials in which new materials and procedures are tested. The problem is that in Zurich there are often too few patients to conduct broad-based, meaningful clinical trials. For this reason Zurich dental scientists have long been working with partner institutions. As Ronald Jung, Professor of Oral Implantology and head of the implantology department at the KBTM, explains, this benefits both sides. “Thanks to these research networks we can bundle our expertise and have enough patients for our trials.”
A year ago Hämmerle and Jung went a step further by establishing the Center of Implant Research as part of the KBTM at UZH. The aim of the new interdisciplinary center is to further bundle and coordinate clinical research, in Zurich and with partner institutions all over the world. Since the Center of Implant Research was launched in April 2016, it has been possible to intensify the KBTM’s ongoing scientific projects in Sao Paulo, Boston, Seoul, Beijing, and Pune, and add other valuable projects to the program.
Start-up financing for global Center of Implant Research network
Establishing the Center of Implant Research requires start-up financing of around 1.5 million Swiss francs for the first three years, most of which is needed for personnel costs. While most of the infrastructure is ready, there is still a shortfall of around 1 million francs. The plan is to seek this funding with the support of the UZH Foundation. In the medium to long term the center will be self-supporting thanks to the acquisition of research funding.
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