Align Technology Inc has extended its funding of the Align Research Award Program for a fifth consecutive year for universities in North America and for a fourth year for international universities. Align has also added two additional research awards to the international segment in recognition of the rapid increase in university research in programs outside of North America.

Launched in 2009, the Align Research Award Program is an annually funded program designed to promote clinical and scientific research in clear aligner therapy. “Study results from past awards have increased our understanding of treatment using clear aligners,” said John Morton, Align Technology’s director of research and technology in a released statement. “In light of this success, we are excited to increase the number of research grants that may be funded this year.”

The awards for 2014 include four 1-year awards of $25,000 each for clear aligner treatment research at universities in North America, eight 1-year awards of $25,000 each for clear aligner treatment research at international universities, and five 1-year awards of $5,000 each for intra-oral scanner research worldwide, for a total award pool of $325,000.

As part of each scanner research award, Align will either loan the award recipient an iTero™ scanner for 1 year or provide a $5,000 credit toward the purchase of an iTero scanner. Study proposals for this research are not limited to the field of orthodontics—they may address any aspect of dentistry in which scanner technology would be of value.

“The success of the previous research award programs has been seen through publications in scientific journals and presentations at society congresses,” said Dr Mitra Derakhshan, Align Technology’s director of clinical international. “We believe scientific research has a positive effect on clear aligner acceptance in international markets, so we’re pleased to increase the international award pool for 2014.”

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.

Program details, instructions, and application forms for prospective applicants are available online for North American applicants and for international applicants.

Research proposals and completed applications must be received by 5 pm Pacific time on March 1, 2014. Award recipients will be notified by May 16, 2014.