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2nd TMJ Bioengineering Conference

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The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complex articulations in the body. Despite the tremendous patient population and the significant morbidity related to a plethora of TMJ disorders, the TMJ is not nearly as well understood as other major joints of the body. All other joints fall under the umbrella of orthopaedics, but unlike the orthopaedic community, there has been no organized forum for open exchange between bioengineers, scientists and clinicians in the TMJ research community. As a follow-up to the success of the 1st NIDCR-sponsored TMJ Bioengineering Conference in 2006, which began building these ties among the previously disparate sub-communities and resulted in a recent publication in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering, we are proposing to continue the forward momentum with a natural evolution to the 2nd TMJ Bioengineering Conference, scheduled for May 27-30, 2009 in New York City. The proposed conference speaks directly to the recently (September 2007) cleared NIDCR concept for "harnessing inflammation for reconstruction of oral and craniofacial tissues," with sessions focused on both reconstruction and inflammation, and with TMJ bioengineering representing a crucial contingent of oral and craniofacial reconstruction. The overall meeting objective is to organize a scientific conference exclusively dedicated to the TMJ, to advance the field of TMJ research and strengthen the continuity among clinicians, scientists and bioengineers in this pursuit. This overall objective will be addressed by the following specific objectives: 1) to provide recommendations to the NIDCR TMJD Program on novel scientific approaches and critical research topics that will advance the field, 2) to establish a benchmark for current treatments and scientific knowledge, and 3) to bring outside perspective from experts in areas pertinent to TMJ research. A tangible outcome of the proposed meeting will be the identification and establishment of research priorities that will be communicated directly to the NIDCR (Objective 1). By bringing experts in TMJ research and clinical treatment (Objective 2) together with experts in highly relevant fields (Objective 3), the proposed conference endeavors to brainstorm new ideas for research needs and solutions for understanding pathology (e.g., pain and inflammation), for improving diagnosis (e.g., imaging and biomechanics), and for developing new treatment strategies (e.g., tissue engineering). In total, 30 invited speakers will present over the course of 3 major sessions, and an improvement over the previous conference will be the incorporation of abstract submissions to diversify the scope of scientific content and discussion, to generate interest, and to boost attendance. Whereas the first conference disseminated focused research directions to the bioengineering community via publication, the currently proposed 2nd TMJ Bioengineering Conference will serve to close the loop by offering recommendations to the NIDCR, which is in a position to identify appropriate funding mechanisms for the area of TMJ research, and to create the PAs and/or RFAs to drive and enable identified high priority research areas.

Project Narrative: Disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), commonly known as the jaw joint, affect more than 10 million Americans, causing agonizing pain and difficulty in simple activities such as eating, talking, and yawning. The purpose of this conference is to develop identify areas of research need and formally present these high priority needs as a formal recommendation to the NIDCR for future program priorities. The ultimate goal is to advance the field of TMJ research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders.

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