June 1, 2020, Alexandria, Va., USA - The American Association for Dental Research (AADR), along with other Americans across the country, is deeply saddened by the tragic death of George Floyd and the long history of unequal justice in our country that have led us to this moment. Mr. Floyd’s death is not an isolated incident, and systemic change is urgently needed to ensure it does not happen again.
Collective grief and outrage over this latest example of unequal justice have now resulted in protests and riots across the country. We at AADR are witnessing them firsthand and feeling them intimately—with AADR President Dr. Mark Herzberg based in Minneapolis, IADR/AADR Chief Executive Officer Dr. Christopher Fox based in Washington, D.C. and AADR Committee on Diversity and Inclusion Chair Dr. Hansel Fletcher based just outside Los Angeles. Given the scale of these protests, we also recognize that many of our members are affected as well.
AADR strongly condemns harassment, violence and discrimination based on an individual’s race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability or nationality. We view these behaviors as antithetical to the conduct of objective science carried out in the public interest. Hence, we are committed to upholding the principles of diversity and inclusion within our organization and in the research community we serve. In recent years, the AADR has taken several steps to enhance our accountability on diversity issues, which have included:
- Forming the AADR Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) to develop programs for promoting diversity and inclusion within AADR and the dental, oral and craniofacial research workforce. The CDI has led many important initiatives at AADR, including hosting workshops on overcoming implicit bias in the dental research workforce and completing climate studies on diversity and inclusion as well as working with peer organizations to discuss strategies to increase outreach to researchers in underrepresented groups.
- Paying tribute to AADR members of diverse backgrounds through the Faces of Dental Research project, which not only highlights the diversity of the dental, oral and craniofacial research workforce but also brings visibility to the contributions of researchers from underrepresented groups.
- Serving as the institutional home for the AADR/Procter & Gamble Underrepresented Faculty Research Fellowship, which is aimed at increasing representation of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups at the early stages of their scientific careers and as science and research-able faculty in academia.
- Supporting diversity within the scientific pipeline by collaborating with federal research partners, such as the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). AADR provided input on what is now NIDCR’s Mentoring Networks for Underrepresented Postdoctoral and Early-Career Investigators. The Networks facilitate interactions between experienced investigators/mentors and early career-stage investigators and provide structured and unstructured activities to enhance development of professional skills and abilities in pursuing dental, oral, and craniofacial research careers.
- Promoting diversity in the NIH-funded biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social sciences workforce through AADR MIND the Future. The primary goal of MIND the Future, a five-year grant supported by the NIDCR, is to establish a mentoring network that supports a diverse pool of early career investigators, including individuals from diverse backgrounds, in developing independent research careers dedicated to improving dental, oral and craniofacial health.
In addition to these initiatives within our organization, AADR also supports broader endeavors—through our government affairs portfolio—to end inequality and inequity in health care.
These AADR initiatives are an important first step, but there is always more that can and should be done. Moving forward, we recognize that we all have an important role to play in changing our culture and safeguarding dignity for all.
AADR is committed to not only upholding the principles of diversity and inclusion, but also to contributing to solutions.
We stand ready to engage in a meaningful dialogue with our members on these issues. We will use feedback to inform our efforts, and we will continue to demand better for our community and our society.
We encourage our members to share their suggestions and raise their concerns on the related post on the AADR Government Affairs & Science Policy Blog.
This statement was written by: Mark Herzberg, AADR President, the AADR Board of Directors, Hansel Fletcher, Chair, AADR Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, and Christopher H. Fox, IADR/AADR Chief Executive Officer.
About the American Association for Dental Research
The American Association for Dental Research (AADR) is a nonprofit organization with over 3,100 individual members in the United States, dedicated to driving dental, oral and craniofacial research to advance health and well-being through discovery and dissemination. The AADR is the largest Division of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR). The AADR also manages the activities of FNIDCR. To learn more, visit www.iadr.org/aadr.