Center for Dental Informatics: Postgraduate Program

(Introductory material about the discipline of dental informatics can be found in the JADA and Advances in Dental Research.)

The mission of the Dental Informatics Training Program is to provide our students with a world-class education that prepares them to become outstanding leaders in dental informatics research, education, and practice.


The postgraduate program offers the following:

  • MS and PhD degrees in biomedical informatics (concentration: dental informatics) (details)
  • comprehensive didactic curriculum (details)
  • completion of 39 (MS) or 72 (PhD) didactic and research credits
  • in-depth research training beginning in the first semester
  • optional bioinformatics track for dental informatics trainees (details)
  • NLM/NIDCR funding for eligible applicants (details)
  • educational loan repayment for eligible applicants (details)
  • To apply, please visit the application page.


Dental informatics – the application of computer and information sciences to improve dental practice, research, education, and management – is a relatively new field with significant potential for supporting dentistry’s many facets. There exists a dental informatics concentration within the Biomedical Informatics Training Program of the Department of Biomedical Informatics. The program is primarily targeted at individuals engaged in dentistry, medicine, or computer science; however, the program is also open to other individuals with appropriate background and a strong interest in a research career in dental informatics.

The program is based on the premise that more than any other innovation at this time, information technology has the potential to help dentistry realize its vision of improving individual and general oral health systematically and consistently. Advances in integration, miniaturization, and sophistication of computer technology, as well as innovations in digital imaging, signal processing, information and knowledge representation, data visualization, human factors design, and expert systems can fundamentally improve how we deliver dental care. The Postgraduate program is intended to educate researchers and leaders in this new field.


Since the focus of the program is to prepare individuals for a research career, trainees are involved in research from the first day in the program. They work closely with program faculty, both individually and as a group, on research projects. The curriculum that trainees complete covers a wide range of subjects, such as medical information access and retrieval, medical databases, decision theory, machine learning from clinical data, human-computer interaction and evaluation. Dental informatics trainees share a large part of the curriculum with their colleagues from other fields, and obtain their concentration through three courses specific to dental informatics. Since dental informaticians are also typically - at least to some degree - involved in the management of information technology systems, the curriculum provides some course material in this area.

The MS option of the program requires the completion of 39 didactic credits, and the preparation and defense of an MS project/thesis. The PhD degree requires the completion of 72 credits, and the preparation and defense of a PhD thesis.

Employment opportunities

Currently, a number of employment opportunities are open for graduates of dental informatics postgraduate programs. An increasing number of dental schools have established or are establishing dental informatics departments, sections, or positions for faculty with dental informatics experience. Dental informatics faculty may support a school's use of information technology in education, develop and teach predoctoral dental informatics courses, lead or participate in the development or implementation of computer systems, or engage in specific research areas.

Secondary employment opportunities include positions within larger dental care delivery organizations, such as group practices, IPAs, or HMOs to support the application of computer technology. Dental software developers, such as dental practice management system vendors, also require the expertise offered by dental informatics specialists.

Some recently established or opened positions include (please check with employer for status of positions):

  • Director of Oral Health Informatics (Columbia University, College of Dental Medicine) (3/2012, archived posting)
  • Postdoctoral Associate (University of Pittsburgh, School of Dental Medicine, Center for Dental Informatics) (9/2011)
  • Informatics Manager (CIGNA Corporation, Department of Valuation & Evaluation Informatics) (5/2011, archived posting)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship in Dental Informatics (Marshfield Clinic) (5/2011, archived posting)
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Harvard University, School of Dental Medicine) (9/2010, archived posting)
  • Dental Informatics Coordinator (Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine, 2010)
  • Biomedical Informatician (State University at New York at Buffalo, School of Dental Medicine) (9/2009, archived posting)
  • Assistant Dean for Dental Education and Informatics (East Carolina University, School Of Dentistry) (3/2009)
  • Dental Informatics Specialist (Marshfield Clinic, Marshfield, WI) (2007)
  • Director of Dental Informatics (The University of Iowa's College of Dentistry) (advertised Bulletin of Dental Education, Vol 40, March 2007)
  • Director of Informatics (University of Alabama School of Dentistry) (2005)
  • Director - Dental Informatics (Marquette University School of Dental Medicine) (Summer 2000)
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Dental Informatics (Temple University School of Dentistry)
  • Director - Dental Informatics (New York University School of Dentistry)
  • Director - Academic Support Services (University of Florida School of Dentistry)
  • Associate Director for Dental Informatics (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) (readvertised Bulletin of Dental Education, Vol. 33, Jan. 2000 )
  • Director of Informatics (Creighton University School of Dentistry)

As in any new field, however, the employment market in dental informatics is highly variable. Successful placement is highly dependent on the knowledge, skills and experience of graduates, and their ability to perform independent research in academic and other environments.


Thirty core and over fifty affiliated faculty members are part of the Pittsburgh Biomedical Informatics Training Program. The dental informatics faculty are:

Titus Schleyer, DMD, PhD (University of Pittsburgh, School of Dental Medicine), is Associate Professor and Director, Center for Dental Informatics. Dr. Schleyer began working in health care informatics in the Department of Medical Informatics at the University of Frankfurt in 1982. Dr. Schleyer's research interests include electronic dental records; clinical computer applications, workflow, human-computer interaction and information representation in dentistry; clinical research informatics, specifically research networking and mining of clinical data; computer-supported cooperative work; and educational software.

Heiko Spallek, DMD, PhD (University of Pittsburgh, School of Dental Medicine), serves as Associate Dean to the Office of Faculty Development and Information Management and is vice-chair of the SDM's Curriculum Committee for the first-professional program. Dr. Spallek is Associate Professor at the Center for Dental Informatics with secondary appointments in the Department of Biomedical Informatics and the School of Information Sciences. In 1993, he graduated from the School of Dentistry, Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany. He continued his career at Humboldt and was appointed as a faculty member in the Department of Periodontology and also received his PhD in the field of dental material sciences. In 2000, he earned an MSBA with a concentration in Computer and Information Science from the Fox School of Business and Management, Temple University, Philadelphia. His research has as its focus the development of Web-based educational resources for dental professionals and the creation of online research communities. His projects have a foundation in the fields of education, usability engineering, medical and dental informatics and computer science. He leads an NLM funded research team for the development of the Dental Informatics Online Community--an open, worldwide community for dental informatics research which is intended to facilitate the development of research projects and the collaborations that support them

Thankam Thyvalikakath, MDS, MS (University of Pittsburgh, School of Dental Medicine), is Assistant Professor in the Center for Dental Informatics. Her current work is focused on clinical applications of dental practice management systems, especially relating to usability and clinical decision-making. Dr. Thyvalikakath is designing novel interfaces for chairside applications as part of a multidisciplinary research team.

Meet our current and former postgraduate students:
Humberto Teena Jeannie Pat Pedro Raj Thankam Joe Danielle Marc Corey Richard


To be eligible for financial support by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, applicants must have a DDS/DMD degree and hold US citizenship or permanent residency status. However, additional training slots are available for individuals engaged either in dentistry, medicine, or computer science without the citizenship/residency requirement.


Dental informatics fellowships are available every year. However, the availability of funding support may vary. To apply for the program, please follow these steps:

  1. Contact Dr. Titus Schleyer, the program director, through the attached contact form, or at University of Pittsburgh, School of Dental Medicine, 3501 Terrace St, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, email:, WWW:
  2. Follow the application procedure to apply to the training program.

Please note: To be considered for the fall of an academic year, applications for the dental informatics program must be received by the spring of each year. Please follow the instructions for completing your application exactly as specified on the application page.

An interinstitutional admissions committee reviews applications and - if applicable - awards NIDCR/NLM fellowships.

Financial support

Tuition rates set by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine apply (see Tuition Rates Overview for current rates). Financial support through fellowships sponsored by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (administered through the National Library of Medicine) is available. For more information, please review the overview of financial support.


For a separate overview of program costs see Refer to School of Medicine Graduate Studies rates.

Dental Informatics Program Contact Form

Please remit this form electronically (Please note: This form is not an application!):

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Thank you for your interest! For more information, please contact Dr. Titus Schleyer at