About the Program
The Minnesota Craniofacial Research Training (MinnCResT) Program’s mission is to train the next generation of independent investigators exploring questions in craniofacial, dental, and oral health research.
The MinnCResT Program is a multidisciplinary, regional center of excellence. Located on the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus, MinnCResT trainees pursue novel research that is 1) fundamental to biology and human health and (2) applied to expand the frontiers and scope of dental, craniofacial and oral health. Opportunities are provided for interdisciplinary research training with an acclaimed, interdisciplinary mentor faculty in well-supported labs and programs.
MinnCResT Program trainees work across disciplines and discover unrecognized fundamental pathways and mechanisms, as well as stratified relationships between molecules, organisms, people and their environments and societies. Trainees collaborate with their mentors to write an annual report. The mentor submits an annual report to the Steering Committee, describing progress, performance, and a summary diary of mentoring of the trainee. Reports and trainee programs are reviewed and approved by the Steering Committee to ensure compliance with mission. Minnesota is committed to identify, recruit, and guide able students from minority and underrepresented groups. By attaining individuals from underrepresented groups, minority scientists will be progressively better represented in the national research effort, adding to the intellectual and creative diversity of our nation's scientists.
The administrative structure is nonhierarchical and highly consultative. The consultative structure is needed to respond to our cross-disciplinary mission, in which no individual or small group can be considered to comprehend or foresee the potential scientific terrain of the future.
Mark C. Herzberg, DDS, PhD, Director
The director has overall responsibility for the ethical and mission-centered operation of the MinnCResT program. To conduct ongoing operations, the director works closely with the Executive Committee. He convenes and chairs the Steering Committee at least twice annually. Every two years, the director convenes the External Advisory Committee for an on-site extramural review of the program, which includes a written critique. In response to a 2006 recommendation from the External Advisory Committee, the director now also focuses on the recruitment and progress of DSTP and MSTP fellows and dental clinicians in the program.
Raj Gopalakrishnan, BDS, PhD, Co-director
The MinnCResT co-directors assist with recruitment and training of our non-clinical PhD and postdoctoral fellows as they develop as scientists in the spirit of the MinnCResT Program mission. Raj Gopalakrishnan is the Director of the School of Dentistry’s Division of Oral Pathology and Director of Graduate Studies for the Graduate Program in Oral Biology.
The Executive Committee membership includes the director, co-directors, the assistant director, and the program associate. The program associate is responsible to day-to-day operations, including database development and management, preparation of NIH and financial documents, correspondence, and is the first-line contact with applicants, current and past fellows, mentor and other faculty, and University of Minnesota Human Resources and research subjects’ protection programs. The assistant director develops programs, including recruitment campaigns and new career development opportunities for our fellows, represents the program to the University of Minnesota and other institutions, prepares reports to NIH and the External Advisory Committee, and coordinates the activities of our fellows.
The Executive Committee manages the program’s budget, develops external recruitment strategies and campaigns, works closely with the partner schools for programmatic integration, and solicits applicants from new mentor faculty who engage in research and training that complements the MinnCResT program. The Executive Committee provides first-level review of all applicants and trainee progress and coordinates programs for gifted undergraduate students that bring them to the School of Dentistry for intensive research experiences. These programs cooperate with the College of Biological Sciences, the Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program, and colleagues at selective liberal arts colleges and honors colleges. The Executive Committee provides robust oversight of all trainees engaged in integrated clinical training activities, including the DSTP and MSTP tracks, provides files and summaries for each fellow for presentation to the Steering Committee for recommendation and action, and engages the External Advisory Committee for on-site programmatic review every two years.
The Steering Committee membership includes the research mentors of all current MinnCResT fellows, the director, two co-directors, the assistant director, and the program associate. The Steering Committee has several charges, including the review of applications, selection of applicants, and review of individual trainee progress. As individual pre- and postdoctoral programs are reviewed, the Steering Committee considers the fellow’s progress in interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary training. The Steering Committee ensures that the craniofacial, dental, and oral health research training mission is well-satisfied for every applicant and trainee in progress. While the Steering Committee is advisory to the director, all program policies and decisions must be ratified by a majority of members. With the director, the assistant director and program associate prepare budgets for review by the Executive Committee and reports for the Steering Committee’s review, comment, and approval.
External Advisory Committee
The MinnCResT program retains a strong External Advisory Committee to ensure compliance with its mission. This committee reviews, evaluates, and makes written recommendations biannually about the MinnCResT Program’s adherence to mission, including the quality of mentorship and the cross-disciplinary nature of the state-of-the-art training offered. This Committee evaluates the Program for quality of leadership and management, training options and career development opportunities, the applicant pool, and the success and satisfaction of the trainees and alumni. The evaluation is presented to the Steering Committee for review and comment. The evaluation of the External Advisory Committee is appended to the progress report, which is sent to NIDCR.