Western University of Health Sciences’ College of Dental Medicine and Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals are bringing together an interprofessional team to research and develop Legislative Issue Briefs designed to inform policy and legislation in support of improved oral and systemic health.

Colgate is providing $100,000 in funding to the College of Dental Medicine in a partnership that focuses on creating a reservoir of expertise by supporting the efforts of promising new faculty who have an interest in becoming a significant and long-term resource for Colgate in an academic area of mutual interest.

Three junior faculty members and two more experienced faculty initially joined the Colgate project team: Joel Laudenbach, DMD; Tobias Boehm, DDS, PhD; Jerry Minsky, DDS; Nithya Venugopal, DMD and Shirley Kang, DDS.

The program has expanded to include faculty and professional staff from across WesternU. The faculty and professional staff named as the Colgate Interprofessional Scholars are: Jeff Elo, DDS, MS, from the College of Dental Medicine (CDM); Steven Lam, DO, MSHS, and Helen Musharbash from the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP); and Ivy Tuason, RN, MSN, FNP, from the College of Graduate Nursing (CGN). The selected students are Grant McClendon and Lin Jing from the CDM, Mitchell Bunnell from COMP, Katherine Cohen from CGN, and Hung Tran from the College of Pharmacy.

Conrado Barzaga, MD, and the Center for Oral Health, which is headquartered on WesternU’s Pomona, Calif. campus, will lead the efforts of the Colgate interprofessional team in researching and developing Legislative Issue Briefs. Drs. Joel Laudenbach and Tobias Boehm will serve as the Issue Brief team leaders, and will work with the current CDM Colgate Scholars, Drs. Shirley Kang, Jerry Minsky and Nithya Venugopal.

A legislative issue brief provides legislators with objective information to help them understand a particular topic.

“It’s a way to provide something that is evidence-based, rather than influenced by politics,” said College of Dental Medicine Dean Steven W. Friedrichsen, DDS. “The idea is to give legislators data to make informed decisions.”

Each of the participants should be congratulated for their interest in participating in this unique interprofessional endeavor supported by Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals, Friedrichsen said. The Legislative Issue Brief team members were selected from 22 applicants that included faculty, staff and students from five of the nine colleges at WesternU.

“This program has the potential to provide for long-lasting positive effects on overall health by fostering well-informed policy and legislative decisions,” Friedrichsen said. “It also gives us an opportunity to demonstrate that an interprofessional, multidisciplinary approach to these complex problems can produce a better result than looking at the situation from the narrow aspect of one discipline.”