R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ciências da Saúde

Unidade de I&D

Unidade de Investigação em Ciências Orais e Biomédicas [HESC-LVT-Lisboa-4062] visitada em 19/03/2008

Classificação: Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
This Research Unit is dedicated to dental research and it is located in the Lisbon School of Dental Medicine that is a rather recent institution. In 1992 a research center was founded within this school for Biomedical Technology. This center was supported by FCT and it has had an important impact in the development of research in this area. The number of MSc and PhD students has increased and several collaborations with other Portuguese, foreign groups and international companies were established. In particular the RU has a standing collaboration with the National Zootechnical Station (Santarém pole) where experimental work in dogs and larger animals takes place.
The publication record of the RU is limited (relatively low impact factor journals, small number of citations per paper), although we should admit that this is not uncommon in the dental research area. A number of publications of more impact have appeared in journals with a wider scope (general medicine, antimicrobial chemotherapy) and a few in journals on biomaterials. A few series of papers have been part of PhD theses of members of the RU. The RU has yield in the period from 2003 up to now a commendable number of MSc theses – 13 – and of PhD theses – 6 -. These production indicators have to be considered taking into account that the available input that the RU, in terms of fte’s. is rather limited. This is mainly due to the fact that practically all members - both staff and PhD students – can dedicate to research only a relatively small part of the time, varying from a maximum of 60% in a very small number of cases to 35 – 20 % in the majority of cases. This is a serious limitation that becomes even more important with respect to the PhD students, most of whom have not only a part-time teaching appointment but also a clinical practice. The time left for research is scarce and it makes carrying out complex and labour intensive experiments very difficult. The RU has no PhD students supported by FCT fellowships, although one has recently applied. A reason for this situation is that the fellowships are financially not attractive for dentists that have also a clinical practice. This question should be considered by the FCT in the framework of the recent program to enable medical interns to enrol at the same time as PhD students. In the Unit some dentists are employed, who have a sound scientific basis mainly acquired at a foreign research institution, and who are responsible for a major part of the research output with more impact.
We recommend that the Unit will continue the policy of sending young researchers to well selected foreign laboratories for training and for strengthening scientific ties with important laboratories abroad. Furthermore, we recommend that the Unit should make an active effort to attract PhD students with a scientific background especially in biochemistry, cell biology and materials sciences, who can enhance the scientific potential of the Unit.
The RU is organized in 5 research groups, namely biomaterials, bone physiology, oral biology and biochemistry, forensic dentistry and oral epidemiology. Our assessment is that this subdivision is not the most preferred form of organization since it may tend to promote divergence of research lines rather than leading to more convergence. We recommend organizing the RU in terms of 3 research lines such as:
- dental materials,
- bone tissue regeneration and implantology, and
- oral epidemiology and quality of dental care.
Forensic dentistry should not be considered a separate research line as such, but it should be incorporated as an activity to be carried out by the Unit on request from outside.
We understand that this diversity of groups is partly due to the fact that some groups joined the RU rather recently and need space to establish their identity.
The productivity and relevance of the work would benefit from attracting more young researchers with a scientific background and by continuing, and reinforcing, active international collaborations. This RU has the potential of being a very relevant element in promoting high level teaching and research in the field of dental and oral medicine in Portugal.
In order to assess the performance of the group one has, of course, to take into consideration the fact that journals in dental medicine have relatively low impact factors. Nonetheless members of the RU have made some very good contributions, some of which in journals with a scope that goes beyond dental medicine, particularly in the field of biomaterials; the majority of publications are of average level in the field. The Panel rates the potential of this group as good/very good.
In summary, this RU should be considered an emergent organization that needs some time to reach maturity.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
Biomaterials Research [RG-HESC-LVT-Lisboa-4062-12]
Bone Physiology [RG-HESC-LVT-Lisboa-4062-10]
Epidemiological Studies [RG-HESC-LVT-Lisboa-4062-11]
Forensic Sciences [RG-HESC-LVT-Lisboa-4062-13]
Oral Biology and Biochemistry [RG-HESC-LVT-Lisboa-4062-14]