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Research institute at Marshfield Clinic brings medical, dental care closer together

Researchers looking at imagery.

​​​​Oct. 12, 2015​​

​​Marshfield Clinic Research Institute (MCRI) announced today that its Institute for Oral and Systemic Health (IOSH) has become MCRI’s sixth core research entity.

IOSH, a dental research program, uses applied, preventive and basic science research; patient and provider education; and informatics/information technology to better align medicine and dentistry in a growing effort to improve quality of patient care and lower overall health care costs.

“Through our research we already have demonstrated ways to improve quality and decrease the overall cost of care by integrating oral health into primary care,” said Marshfield Clinic Health System CEO Dr. Susan Turney. “We’re continuing this research to bring the latest in integrated health care to the communities we serve.”

Founded in April 2014, IOSH was developed in collaboration with the Clinic’s Division of Education and Family Health Center of Marshfield, Inc. (FHC). IOSH operated out of MCRI’s Biomedical Informatics Research Center (BIRC).

IOSH joins BIRC as core research entities, along with Clinical Research Center, National Farm Medicine Center, Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health and Center for Human Genetics.

“Recognizing and elevating IOSH’s status within our organization will signal to potential collaborators and funding agencies our organization’s commitment to this important field of research,” said Dr. Amit Acharya, IOSH founding director. “That increases the likelihood of accelerating discovery, innovation and translation of this core research field by realizing new opportunities and enabling IOSH to serve as a global leader in the area of oral-systemic health.”

A lofty beginning

Over the past 15 months, IOSH has:

• Secured $2.5 million in grants and contracts for oral-systemic health-related research and educational opportunities.
• Created a cross-disciplinary, collaborative platform between MCRI scientists and staff, Division of Education, Marshfield Clinic Information Services, Inc. (MCIS), FHC, Security Health Plan of Wisconsin, Inc., and external organizations.
• Established a National Advisory Council composed of internationally-recognized experts to advise IOSH on key strategies for growth and operation.
• Provided educational and training opportunities through resident research, post-doctoral fellowship and research internships.
• Hosted one of three oral health informatics post-doctoral fellowship programs in the U.S. and collaborated with CHG to develop one of the few oral-systemic bio banks in the nation.

“The work being accomplished in IOSH by Dr. Acharya and his team is recognized nationally for its excellence as well as the potential for improving human health,” said MCRI Executive Director Dr. Robert Steiner. “In this regard, IOSH is helping MCRI continue to build its national reputation and demonstrate relevance to patient care, both critical to its mission.”

A cohesive, system-wide approach to health care

IOSH’s mission aligns closely with Marshfield Clinic Health System, (MCHS) which oversees Marshfield Clinic, Security Health Plan of Wisconsin, Inc., MCIS and Lakeview Medical Center. MCHS also is co-sponsor for Flambeau Hospital in Park Falls.

IOSH has access to more than 100,000 patients’ medical-dental electronic health records to support improvement initiatives and clinical/oral-systemic health research.

“IOSH’s mission, goals and accomplishments demonstrate how Marshfield Clinic works toward improving patient health through the latest research, technology and best practices,” said Clinic Executive Director Dr. Narayana Murali. “Improving oral health, a key factor in a patient’s overall health, allows them to enjoy life to the fullest.”

Educating future dental professionals is a critical component to addressing the community’s dental care needs and a shortage of dentists, technicians and hygienists. The Clinic’s Division of Education recently was accredited and started an Advanced Education in General Dentistry program and IOSH supports dental residents’ research.

“Periodontal diseases are linked to many systemic diseases and conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Matthew Jansen, medical director, Division of Education. “The more we incorporate these fields with our dental and clinical care professionals, the better equipped we are to improve our patients’ overall health.”

Access to dental care is a key factor MCHS is trying to address. Ten FHC dental centers, operated in conjunction with Marshfield Clinic, have more than 80 dentists and dental hygienists who provide service to all 72 Wisconsin counties to help some of the 53 million people in the U.S. burdened by oral health concerns, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.​

“IOSH is critical to FHC dental centers’ long-term success as it works to develop technology and tools to assist in educating and reaching Wisconsin’s population that carries a disproportionate burden of oral disease,” said FHC Director Greg Nycz.

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