UCLA Dental Student Selected for National Institutes of Health Research Training Program

Posted on: Thursday, 05/15/1997

UCLA dental student Cliff Davis '98, a Santa Monica resident, was the only dental student selected out of 200 applicants to participate in the first class of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) clinical research training program in Maryland. He and nine third-year medical students will receive one year of individualized instruction designed to help them integrate their clinical and research backgrounds.

"This is a major coup for dentistry and Mr. Davis," said Rory Hume, dean of the UCLA School of Dentistry. "I know he will do a terrific job representing UCLA next year in Bethesda."

Davis, who was elected student body president this year by his classmates, is not your typical dental student. On the way to finding his true calling, the 32-year-old previously worked as a molecular biologist, artist and machinist. He sees his diverse background as an asset.

"Dentistry is science, art and craftsmanship," Davis said. "I use many of the skills I learned from my past professional experiences."

The first person in his family to attend a university, Davis applied only to UCLA. "I wanted to go to the best dental school," he explained. "UCLA students are encouraged to think like investigators, not learn by rote."

When Davis arrives on the NIH campus this summer, a senior clinician will be assigned to mentor him in gene therapy, his chosen field of specialty. Together, they will develop an individualized research plan, chart progress, plot investigatory strategies and explore career options. In the spring, Davis will present his research findings to the NIH clinical research community.