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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 45-46

Expanding collaborative dental research between “Town” and “Gown” for the oral health benefits of the society

Chairman, Board of Trustees, Riyadh Elm University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Date of Web Publication19-Aug-2019

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Abdullah R AlShammery
Riyadh Elm University, P.O. Box: 84891, Riyadh 11681
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/sjos.SJOralSci_53_19

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How to cite this article:
AlShammery AR. Expanding collaborative dental research between “Town” and “Gown” for the oral health benefits of the society. Saudi J Oral Sci 2019;6:45-6

How to cite this URL:
AlShammery AR. Expanding collaborative dental research between “Town” and “Gown” for the oral health benefits of the society. Saudi J Oral Sci [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Jul 16];6:45-6. Available from: http://www.saudijos.org/text.asp?2019/6/2/45/264766

Early this year, 2019, the Ministry of Education of Saudi Arabia announced an initiative on Research and Development that is expected to bring together partnership in research between the universities and volunteer companies/business entities as copartners. The ministry intends to match “riyals-for-riyals” whatever capped research fund the participating company/business entity is willing to make available to the concerned university.

The philosophy that underpins this initiative is actually “Town” and “Gown” collaboration in research. All over the world, there had always been a measure of cooperation between the universities and the society in many areas such as research, services, disease control, urban planning, and crime control.

In this editorial, “Town” includes civil society, industry, and businesses, nonprofit government organizations, foundations, institutes, and charitable organizations. The “Gown” is made up of higher institutions of learning particularly the universities. Although the town and the gown continued to have interactions, universities tended to engage in their core enterprise of research in a restrictive relationship with industry. This explained why many universities have their own dedicated invention/patents departments that generate financial resources. However, translational research which emerged in the last few decades appeared to have brought industry and university research centers somewhat closer. This is a welcome development and should be made stronger guided by ethical boundaries that preclude abuse of the relationship.

Specifically in health matters, town and gown collaboration should not lead to special promotion of the products of a particular member of the “town,” i.e. industry. Rather it should serve as a promoter of “good services” products and be competitive for the benefit of the service populations meaning the citizens or society consuming or using the product.

More than a century ago, Abraham Flexner, the American medical education proactive reformer, wrote “A university is not outside, but inside the general social fabric of a given era.” “Town” and “Gown” should, working together in research projects, be agents of positive changes in the society. The university research philosophy should not restrict itself only to core research without purposeful engagement with industry for the good of the consumer which is the society.

I suspect that the Ministry of Education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may have something like this in mind in initiating the laudable and collaborative philosophy of “Research and Development” between the universities in the Kingdom and the industry.

Well-articulated and formulated cross-boundary relationships leading to collaborative scientific health research outcomes co-partnered by university research centers and industry will energize transformational change strategy for good health of the citizens and the nation across board.


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