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Oral pathology collaboration project with Eurasia

UiB/CCBIO's Bergen Oral Cancer Research Group and Experimental Pathology Research Group received in 2016 3 million NOK in funding from SIU through the Eurasia program, to a collaboration project for education and research in oral pathology between Norway, Moldova, Belarus and Armenia. The project started off with a workshop in Bergen in 2016, and the Bergen researchers and educators have recently returned from a workshop in Moldova.

Group photo.
Anne Christine Johannessen and Daniela Costea (in the middle, front), both CCBIO Professors, participated at workshop in Moldova. Professor Costea coordinates the project. CCBIO Postdoc Dipak Sapkota (first one the left) also participated.

Sharing competence

In Norway, as in all Scandinavian countries, the dental students receive systematic education and training in oral pathology and have competence in conducting several diagnostic tests, such as tissue biopsies and microbiological samples, as well as interpreting the results and taking action accordingly, reducing in this way the burden on the specialized clinics.

In Eurasia countries, oral pathology is at its commencement and its teaching to dental students is sporadic and spread over several disciplines. As a consequence of that, the lesions of oral mucosa are either underdiagnosed, or, when observed, most of the patients with such lesions are sent to specialist clinics even for small lesions or small biopsies that could be done by a general dentist with adequate knowledge and training in oral pathology.

This project aims at establishing a joint standardized oral pathology teaching curriculum aligned between the collaborative institutions and to initiate common research activities in this field.

Specialized knowledge to general dentists

The vision is that this project will create the basis for developing a specialized teaching workforce at collaborative institutions and will bring awareness on needed services that could be provided to the community in the field of oral pathology by general dentists. It should standardize education in oral pathology and increase the awareness on oral cancer and oral mucosal diseases in the collaborative countries. 

Student and staff mobility is one of the key strategic elements of this project and it is meant to lead to knowledge transfer, ensured quality and standardization of research in oral pathology.

The project is designed to address several levels: academic, administrative and technical laboratory level, in order to build a sustainable and harmonized higher education environment among collaborative institutions.

Professor Daniela Elena Costea is coordinating the project, entitled ‘Collaboration for education and research in oral pathology between Norway, Moldova, Belarus and Armenia’.

Workshop in Moldova

Several of CCBIO's researchers recently returned from the International Workshop in Oral Pathology at the State University of Medicine and Pharmacy «Nicolae Testemitanu», Chisinau, Moldova. At the Workshop, the teaching curriculums for dental students and dental hygienists in Norway, Belarus, Armenia and the Republic of Moldova were first analyzed, and a ‘blueprint’ of a harmonized curriculum has been generated. The workshop was followed by a full day of lectures under the title ‘Oral pathology awareness day’ on the role of the specialist in oral pathology, diagnosis and prevention of oral cancer and lesions with malignant potential, autoimmune diseases with oral manifestations, Sjogren’s syndrome, vesicular-bullous lesions, etc. This event emphasized the importance of studying oral pathology, a borderline discipline between pathology and oro-maxillofacial surgery, which often creates confusion to a dentist that did not receive teaching and training in oral pathology, such is the case of the dentists educated at the universities from Moldova, Belarus or Armenia. Knowledge on various oral pathology topics will enable these dentists also to take the right decision when he or she will encounter a patient with an oral mucous lesion and will increase the quality of the health care provided to the patients in these countries.

Administration and IT

In addition to the educational and scientific component, the project also have administrative and IT components that are meant to help building up the appropriate administrative and IT platforms at the EURASIA collaborative countries necessary for the implementation of the project. As part of this, Håvard Aass from the administration at the Department of Clinical Medicine was joining the delegation from UiB to Moldova and together with SIU Representative Bård Hekland and the project managers participated in several meetings with the rector of USMF «Nicolae Testemitanu», and representatives from the administration and IT Department.

Coming activities

As a result of the discussions during the workshop, several activities have been initiated and two dental hygienist students and one dental student will travel for a student exchange in December to perform interviews and surveys as part of their project thesis. Several representatives from USMF Moldova will next visit us at the UiB, two representatives from Belarusian State University will visit University of Tromsø and two from Yerevan Medical State University from Armenia will visit the University of Oslo.

An important activity in the project is also the developing of an online course in oral pathology (Professor Anne Christine Johannessen is responsible) and experimental research methods in oral pathology (Professor Daniela Elena Costea is responsible), in collaboration with the IT department at the University of Bergen (responsible is Senior Engineer H Opedal).

We look forward to the coming activities and results!