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Gift empowers research linking oral health and chronic diseases

14 November 2015
Leadership for good meets philanthropy for good

A $3.6 million donation to the University of Sydney has been the stimulus for a bold plan to establish a $20 million world-class research centre spearheading research, policy, advocacy and education initiatives to prevent and reduce chronic diseases caused by poor oral health.

Professor Chris Peck, Dean of Dentistry with Dr Alex Abrahams, alumnus and philanthropist

The gift by the Abrahams family through their Rosebrook Foundation funds the establishment of a new Chair of Lifespan Oral Health in the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Dentistry and Charles Perkins Centre. Dr Alex Abrahams, an alumnus of the university’s Faculty of Dentistry, graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery in 1982 and has been a practising dentist for more than 30 years.

Based at Westmead Centre for Oral Health, the soon to be appointed Chair of Lifespan Oral Health will investigate all aspects of preventable dental disease and its links to whole-of-body health.

The Chair’s research will be incorporated into the University’s Dentistry curricula, as well as new clinical treatment guidelines for future dental professionals, and in continuing professional development programs for current practitioners.

“Our current understanding reveals profound associations between oral health and a range of chronic diseases,” says Professor Chris Peck, Dean, Faculty of Dentistry.

“Our research is revealing how the mouth and teeth can be markers for systemic illness, and how chronic infections, inflammation and degeneration in the mouth help explain disease processes throughout the body.

“The Chair of Lifespan Oral Health will advance our understanding of the specific causal connections between oral health and diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia and adverse pregnancy outcomes.”

The University has also released today a prospectus describing plans to translate the research findings of the Chair of Lifespan Oral Health into real-world impacts by raising $20 million to establish a world-class research centre.

“The centre will build on the work of the new Chair and develop a whole-of-health disease prevention strategy that defines benefits to individuals, the community and government through improved health, reduced costs and evidence-based health policy development,” Chris Peck says.

Academic Director of the University’s Charles Perkins Centre, Professor Stephen Simpson said: “The new Chair will be responsible for developing strategies to improve the health of current and future generations of Australians. This task goes beyond traditional dentistry and medicine and extends to education, nutrition, agriculture, economics, the built environment and communication technologies.”

Find out how you can support the Faculty of Dentistry and Charles Perkins Centre in transforming the lives of Australians. With every gift to the University of Sydney, donors become part of the INSPIRED campaign, which aims to raise $600 million by 2017.

Dan Gaffney

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