By Wendy Sarubbi | May 27, 2011 1:35 pm

The University of Central Florida Board of Trustees approved the creation of a new College of Dental Medicine that will expand opportunities for local students, create jobs and help Central Floridians lead healthier lives.

According to the plan, the dental college will be located adjacent to the UCF College of Medicine at the UCF Health Sciences Campus at Lake Nona. The college is expected to create at least 110 permanent local jobs as well as an initial economic impact of $73 million from construction and an annual economic benefit of $68.5 million. UCF is not seeking state funding for the project. Additional economic impacts will flow from the research opportunities available to the college. Some of that research will explore the links between dental and medical health.

“This is a unique opportunity for us,” said Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs at UCF and dean of the College of Medicine. “There is a link between oral health and overall health. In fact, recent studies indicate that oral disease is often present in diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We expect to be conducting research in these areas, which will benefit our students and the community’s overall health.”

“Central Florida needs dentists who will treat underserved communities. The UCF program will include service-learning projects that will reach out to rural and inner-city communities. Providing service to those who can least afford dental care will be a strong component in the curriculum,” German said.

German, in her role as the vice president for medical affairs, will oversee the creation of the new dental college. Students in the medical and dental colleges will collaborate to enrich their educational experiences and to best use unique facilities, such as the College of Medicine’s anatomy lab.

The proposal for the dental college was co-authored by Dr. Patricia Bishop, Vice provost and Dean, College of Graduate Studies, and Dr. Julia Pet-Armacost, Associate Dean, College of Medicine Planning and Knowledge Management.

The project still needs the state Board of Governors’ approval to move forward. UCF is striving to open the school in 2014 with a charter class of 60 students.

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