dental-research optAlign Technology Inc, San Jose, Calif, has extended its funding of the Align Research Award Program for a fourth consecutive year for universities in North America and a third year for international universities. This year, Align is introducing a new scanner research award component in recognition of the rapid increase in utilization of intra-oral scanning technology in the dental profession.

Launched in 2009, the Align Research Award Program is an annually-funded program designed to promote clinical and scientific research in clear aligner therapy. With the addition of funding for intra-oral scanning research, the awards for 2013 will include four 1-year awards of $25,000 for clear aligner therapy research at universities in North America, six 1-year awards of $25,000 for clear aligner therapy research at international universities, and five 1-year awards of $5,000 for intra-oral scanner research worldwide, for a total award pool of $275,000. Included with each scanner research award is either an iTero™ scanner provided on loan for 1 year or a credit of $5,000 towards the purchase of an iTero scanner.

“We are excited to add to the program a research award component which includes Align’s focus on intra-oral scanning technology. Study proposals for this new category are not limited to the field of orthodontics, but can include any aspect of dentistry where the scanner technology is indicated,” said Eric Kuo, DDS, vice president of clinical technology at Align.

The recipients for the 2012 Align Research Awards were announced earlier this year, with four research awards issued in North America and four research awards issued internationally. Proposals funded in 2012 included an evaluation of the enamel width at of the permanent dentition in association with interproximal reduction (IPR), an analysis of specific tooth movements in teenagers treated with Invisalign aligners, an analysis of canine rotations treated with Invisalign aligners, a study on oral hygiene levels and the quality of bacterial plaque during orthodontic treatment, an evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of clear aligner treatment in Class I moderate crowding malocclusions, a risk-factor study to identify potential biomarkers for caries and periodontal disease in orthodontic patients, a finite-element analysis evaluation of tooth movement with clear aligners, and an evaluation of the accuracy and reproducibility of orthodontic measurements using Align’s iTero intra-oral scanner.

“The international component of this research program has generated a great deal of interest from the international academic community. Because of this and the importance of scientific research, the international award pool has been substantially increased for 2013,” said Mitra Derakhshan, DDS, director of clinical international at Align.

Eligible applicants for the clear aligner research award component include full- and part-time faculty involved in orthodontic or scientific research at universities where Invisalign is available. Eligible applicants to the scanner research award component include full- and part-time faculty involved in research in orthodontics or general dentistry, in countries where the iTero scanner is commercially available. All applications are reviewed by an independent academic committee that forwards its recommendations to Align Technology for final selection. The academic committee chair for 2013 is Sunil Wadhwa, DDS, director of the division of orthodontics at Columbia University.

Program details, instructions, and application forms for prospective applicants can be found at (for North American applicants) and (for international applicants). Research proposals and completed applications must be received by 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time on March 1, 2013. Award recipients will be notified by May 10, 2013.