Farhan Raza Khan BDS, MS, MCPS, FCPS
The significance of research has increasingly been identified in the dental academia.1 Faculty members want to do research primarily for their promotion on the career ladder to reach the professorial position. Post graduate residents & students are interested in research as original research work is one of the requirements for the fulfillment of their advanced diplomas and degrees. Even undergraduate students have started to get involved in
research activities as they too have identified better prospects for placement while competing for residency positions. Scholars get benefitted if they carry research credits in their profile. The culture of Pakistani dental institutions is gradually changing as they too have started to realize the significance of indigenous research. This evolution is slow
but it’s taking place and it’s likely to bring positive impact in future.2
There are many faces of research, ranging from simple cross-sectional surveys in clinics to large double blind placebo-controlled trails in communities, from basic science related bench work to cutting edge translational research at dental chair-side, and from a simple clinical audit to a complex meta-analysis of trials. All forms of research lead to the generation of new knowledge. As researchers, clinicians and teachers, we all are individuals of science and science progresses with cumulative contribution of people who study it, follow it and above all believe in its supremacy and genuineness. Our collective responsibility is to understand that we must contribute our share in the knowledge base already existing in our respective fields of study. This will lead to innovation, synthesis of new
knowledge and wisdom. All of this will collectively lead to progress in science and research. Mere generation of new science is not enough; there must be some application of research findings to get the genuine benefits to society or individual patient care or in the betterment of quality of life in communities. At present, the research being undertaken in dental academia of Pakistan is far from producing any tangible benefits to the society at large. For this, a strong connection between university and industry is needed. The arrangement should be as such that the innovative ideas, research protocols and preliminary but significant research developments made in the academic institutions can be taken to the large/ commercial scale by research & development wings of the relevant industry.
Table 1 shows the data of top Pakistani contributors in original dental research. An important observation is that
most of these are associated with either Dental Material
Table 1: : List of Pakistani dentists contributing to dental research nationally and internationally
Sciences or Dental Public Health. Clinical residency trained clinicians are a minority in this list; mainly due to their
patient care commitments and interests. Moreover, it’s evident that most of the scientists mentioned in this list have obtained their advanced education and research training from abroad (mainly from United Kingdom), this shows
relative lack of infrastructure for producing dental scientists here. The problem gets more complicated when data is
stratified based on the country of residence shown in table 2.
It’s alarming to note that only a third of few of these research-active investigators are serving in Pakistan. This
Table 2: List of Pakistani dentists contributing to research & its mentorship in Pakistan
means that despite of an increasing contribution to dental research at global stage, Pakistani dentists are not offering
any significant mentorship opportunities to the local students.2
The culture in developed part of the part is conducive for the research activities whereas deficiency in research infrastructure is the biggest challenge in our homeland. In Pakistan, although research studies are being undertaken in increasing numbers and papers are being published but this is more of individuals’ efforts. Only a few institutions including Aga Khan University, Shaikh Zayed Medical Institute, and Dow University of Health Sciences have invested in the capacity building of the dental investigators in their formative years. But this is not enough.
At institutional level, a significant room for improvement is certainly there. It’s high time that our dental academia needs to play their part in creating capacity building of next generation of dental scientists in the country. This can be achieved by investing in the infrastructure, laboratories, fund allocation for research work, facilitating and rewarding faculty members who are already mentoring post-graduates research and in incentivizing the members of fraternity who are capable of generating indigenous research but not contributing at present. It will be great be if our stakeholders (dental associations and research societies) initiate a dialogue and open forum on this topic in our next national dental meetings and conferences. As a concerned member of dental profession, we would greatly appreciate receiving comments and suggestions from dental teachers and researcher.
There are no conflicts of interest regarding this paper. Data mentioned in the tables are derived from Google scholar. A few names were missed (such as Drs Nazia Yazdani, Umer Daood, Saad Bin Qasim and others) on account of inaccessible Google Scholar profiles. Author is solely responsible for other names missing in the list.
- Ijaz S, Khan AA. Dental research in Pakistan: room for improvement. J Pak Dent Assoc. 2015;24:156-57.
- Khan FR. Role modeling is needed for research capacity building among dental students. J Pak Dent Assoc. 2018;27:92-3. https://doi.org/10.25301/JPDA.273.92
- Associate Professor, Operative Dentistry, Chief of Dental Services, Aga Khan University Karachi, Pakistan.
Corresponding author: “Dr. Farhan Raza Khan” < firstname.lastname@example.org >