Center for Dental Informatics: Programs

Dental Informatics Research Program


The Center for Dental Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine has established a short term dental informatics research program. The program provides an opportunity for interested individuals to experience research and development of computer applications in dentistry hands-on in a dental school environment. The School of Dental Medicine offers one to two positions on the basis of the University of Pittsburgh's academic calendars.

Students participate in research projects and day-to-day operations in the Center for Dental Informatics. Ongoing projects include research in development, design, and implementation of World Wide Web-based online teaching resources; computer-based oral health records; clinical applications; digital imaging applications; intranets; and dental information resources, such as databases and online reference material. The duration of program corresponds with the length of a course which can be found in the University's academic calendar. Admission to research program is competitive and based on fulfillment of specific admissions criteria (see below). You can review two reports of students who stayed with us: Juergen Trunzer’s 2003 report (PDF - 1.2 MB) and more recently Kathrin Becker’s 2010 Report (HTML).”

Interested individuals should contact:

    Heiko Spallek, DMD, PhD
    Center for Dental Informatics
    University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine
    3501 Terrace Street
    Pittsburgh, PA 15261

Program Description

Information technology is becoming an indispensable tool in the delivery of dental care. Dental informatics, a discipline concerned with the application of computer technology in dentistry, is a rapidly emerging field in which training opportunities are limited. The University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine is offering short-term dental informatics research program to provide opportunities for education and participation in this discipline.

Successful applicants will select one or more projects to work on before coming to the School of Dental Medicine. Based on a completed project proposal, students will be assigned to one primary mentor. Students will complete their projects during their stay, and -- if applicable -- projects will be published or presented. Students will receive a certificate of completion for the Dental Informatics Research Program as well as credit at their home institution or from the University of Pittsburgh depending on their status (see below under #Costs).


Individuals who are engaged either in dentistry, medicine, instructional design or computer science are eligible for this program. These individuals include, but are not limited to: dentists, dental students, dental educators, dental hygienists, dental technicians, physicians, computer scientists, and computer science undergraduate and graduate students. Individuals are not required to hold US citizenship or permanent residency status. The Office of International Services at the University of Pittsburgh will issue visa documents upon completion of the applicable information request forms which will be electronically mailed to admitted students.

Application process

Admission to the Dental Informatics Research Program is competitive based on a decision by the admissions committee. Only applications which follow the two-step procedure containing the following material will be accepted:

Step 1:

Please complete the application form. After a short review period (usually a couple of days), a member of the admission committee will let you know about the feasibility of your application. Alternatively, you will receive suggestions on how to improve your chances for a successful application. Once you have received the message from the member of the admissions committee, you can proceed with Step 2.

Step 2:

Familiarize yourself with the Center's research agenda. The best way to do so is to read the recent research papers and the book published by members of the Center. Then, please try to find a creative way how your goals and objectives can be integrated into the Center's research agenda. This will ensure that your and our needs are met optimally through the research program. Then, send an email message to including the following attachments.

  1. a cover letter including a short statement about your goals and objectives (and, if applicable, the ones of the sponsoring institution) which you would like to achieve through this program (format: MS-Word or RTF);
  2. a current curriculum vitae with specific reference to computer training and skills (list of courses including topics covered, projects completed and which grades you have received) (format: MS-Word or RTF);
  3. a short research plan that you would like to perform while at Pitt, including goals and objectives; background; methods; and evaluation (format: MS-Word or RTF); and
  4. (for non-native English speakers) a copy of the test results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) (format: PDF).

The Admissions Committee of the Center for Dental Informatics will only evaluate applications which follow the described two-step procedure. Applicants will be notified about acceptance about two month before the start of their internship.


Students must apply to our not-a-candidate-for-degree program (a university fee will be due). For that fee students will receive a Pitt ID, free bus rides, a Pitt email account and full library rights. After admission, they will be registered in a course depending on their status as undergraduate, graduate or dental student and will pay tuition accordingly. Students will receive credit from the University of Pittsburgh.

Students from other US or Canadian institutions of higher education can receive credit at their home institution. They need to provide a confirmation of being enrolled in a directed study or research method course at their home institution. No costs/fees are due for these students.

All students are responsible for all costs related to traveling to University of Pittsburgh, housing, transportation, and other expenses. Applicants are encouraged to consider applying to government agencies and/or public/private foundations to obtain stipends for students.

Thank you for your interest!