The School of Dental Medicine, University of Zagreb as the only autonomous institution of higher education in the Republic of Croatia stands out as a research-teaching institution. In designing this strategy we relied on the Strategy of Education, Science and Technology of the Republic of Croatia, Strategy of Research, Transfer of Technology and Innovation of the University of Zagreb as well as the documents of the International Association for Dental Research, the most important international organization for research in dental medicine.
The Republic of Croatia supports the development of a society of knowledge since knowledge is a driving force of development which makes education and science its main priorities. Various documents were analyzed on the European, regional and national level according to which the Strategy of Research, Transfer of Technology and Innovation of the University of Zagreb was created. Consequently, the Strategy of the School of Dental Medicine has been harmonized with it and its specific goals were adapted to the basic activities of School.
The School of Dental Medicine, University of Zagreb is the only autonomous higher education institution in the Republic of Croatia, and a central national research center in the field of dental medicine. The School systematically raises its scientific level and improves the quality of research aiming to reach European and international standards of research excellence. The School of Dental Medicine in Zagreb will be a respectable factor not only in national and regional, but also in the European research area.
The School of Dental Medicine will systematically strengthen international and inter-institutional cooperation and reinforce the need to create a center of scientific research excellence in the field of dental and oral medicine and dental materials. It will promote networking at European and global level to work on joint research projects and innovations, improve the total global knowledge stock and contribute to the betterment of Croatian society. It will improve research and raise awareness about the importance of oral health, present in public studies on oral health and facilitate the application of scientific discoveries.
SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)
Carrying out the SWOT analysis was the basis for the creation of the research strategy of the School of Dental Medicine.
- Tradition and reputation of the only national autonomous institution of higher education in the field of Dental Medicine – the School of Dental Medicine in Zagreb
- A significant number of employees in research-teaching and associate positions, some of them internationally renowned
- A great number of scientific-research projects over several years covering all branches of dental medicine
- Widespread inter-institutional collaboration in Croatia and abroad
- Considerable experience in hosting and organizing scientific and professional gatherings at a national, regional, European and global level
- 48 years of tradition in publishing the scientific journal Acta stomatologica Croatica
- Great teaching load and professional duties taking a toll on the researchers
- Lack of space and equipment at the School of Dental Medicine
- Currently insufficient short-term financial support
- Lack of professional administrative support for application to European projects
- Insufficient innovations and research done abroad
- Insufficient number of scientific books authored by the School employees
- Lack of an evaluation system for the quality of scientific productivity which would take into account various aspects of scientific work such as scientific papers, leading of scientific projects, publishing books, textbooks, monographs, etc. and mentorships of doctoral theses
- More intensive participation in national projects
- Participating in international research projects
- Numerous inter-institutional and international collaborations with prestigious foreign universities through joint research projects
- Easier mobility
- Improving the system of including the students and their mentors in scientific work
- Creating an assessment system for quality of scientific productivity via different aspects of scientific work
- Encouraging researchers/teachers to publish books and textbooks as well as their adequate ranking regarding research-teaching promotions
- Insufficient financial means at a national level
- Problems with the criteria and priorities of financing
- Inability to hire junior researchers
- Rigid system of hiring new assistant professors
- Teaching and professional activities dominate over scientific research and innovation
Scientific activity of the teaching staff from the School of Dental Medicine, University of Zagreb, has been assessed for the purpose of objective self-evaluation according to the participation in projects, international journals in which the teachers publish, as well as the impact factor and citation according to WOS.
In the last few years, the teachers from the School of Dental Medicine have been publishing more intensely in internationally recognized scientific journals of higher impact level not only in the field of dental medicine but also in the field of medicine, chemistry, physics and optics. Consequently, they have become more recognized in Europe and worldwide and some of them can be considered competitive in European research area. As a result, good international collaboration has produced joint quality research and publications and shorter visits of junior researchers and teachers in international laboratories of prestigious universities as well as renowned visiting the School of Dental Medicine in Zagreb. One disadvantage is the lack of non-formalized collaboration which could result in funded projects, thus leading to even more fruitful scientific productivity.
Considering only the research done in Croatia, we can be extremely satisfied with the inter-institutional collaboration with numerous universities and institutes in Croatia, particularly within the postgraduate doctoral study program of Dental Medicine. This collaboration is most successful in joint mentorships of doctoral dissertations and in participation in projects of the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, National/Croatian Science Foundation, in university funding, BICRO projects, City of Zagreb projects, etc.
Since the greatest disadvantage of the School of Dental Medicine is the lack of spatial capacities, the School has no central research laboratory of its own and therefore it has to develop and improve relations with collaborating institutions in which numerous basic investigations are done.
A part of the equipment which has been continuously updated is located at the School of Dental Medicine, particularly the equipment related to clinical research.
In the last twenty years, there have been great changes in the structure of the teachers’ workload due to the implementation of the Bologna system, adaptations to the European Higher Education Area, introduction of new technologies and new demands of the state regarding the educational process. The volume of duties in the domain of organizational, management and administrative work has been increased.
Projection of development
In the period between 2015 and 2020, the Strategy of scientific research of the School of Dental Medicine implies constant improvement of the current situation for which there is undoubtedly potential and capacity. It is difficult not to consider the current science funding system which is a limiting factor in research and therefore more active and efficient additional sources of financing have to be urgently ensured from European and international funds as well as additional financial means from other sources.
Traditionally, the School of Dental Medicine has educational and research function, however, as a constituent of the University of Zagreb, it attempts to fulfill a third role which is the field of transfer of technology and development of innovations, and hence the concept of ‘knowledge triangle’ is mentioned implying education-research-innovations.
Encouraging innovation is the main strategic guideline of the European Union (Innovation Union) since innovations are considered to be the main driver of development in the modern economy and society of knowledge. A prerequisite for achieving this triangle is to provide the conditions for scientific research leading to scientific excellence since the excellent investigations are the first and basic precondition for innovation and the development and application of new, key enabling technologies (Key Enabling Technology KET). The second prerequisite is to establish a transparent system of encouraging innovation activities and knowledge transfer, and the third is the establishment of an adequate high-professional infrastructural support to researchers in order to be able to accomplish even the most complex functions of innovation and knowledge transfer.
Dental medicine, as a small profession, may not be the backbone of the Croatian progress, but it attempts to competitively participate in all the main and direct objectives of the University of Zagreb in the areas relevant to the application of European and international projects, which are mainly health, bio and nanotechnologies and nanomaterials. Furthermore, by connecting with similar institutions abroad, interdisciplinary research and research capacity consolidation forms preconditions for creating a research and innovation chain, and possibly the production chain. A prerequisite for this is research excellence and recognition of the institution and individuals. So far, the School of Dental Medicine has had applications for two patents and it is necessary to promote and enhance such activities.
- Encourage the research environment
- Encourage academic excellence
- Encourage application and leadership of international projects
- Encourage inter-institutional and international networking
- Encourage the employment of young researchers
- Encourage the introduction of the most successful junior researchers into research and teaching system
- Encourage innovations and their commercialization
Activities (elements of implementation and monitoring of the realization of the Strategy)
- Encourage excellence, encourage quality of publications, objectify the system of scientific advancement
- Encourage interdisciplinarity and international collaborations within the project consortia
- Encourage and point out individual international cooperation
- Introduce scholarships for mobility of doctoral students and researchers
- Encourage the applications for the EU program "Obzor (Horizon) 2020"
- Stimulate the signing of agreements between institutions of higher education
- Develop a system of help in the application, implementation and monitoring of international projects
- Improve systems of financing and management
- Popularize and promote science
- Improve doctoral training; encourage the most productive and quality doctoral students
- Encourage strong researchers and research groups who are the basic prerequisite for international competitiveness
- Encourage innovation, patenting and intellectual property
- Monitor and report on research productivity
- Research of the oral mucosa stem cells and dental pulp
- Salivary diagnostics (saliva as diagnostic fluid)
- Pulp Biology and Regeneration
- Dental materials: Nanomaterials and bioactive materials
- Proteomic analysis and metalloproteomics in periodontology
- Molecular biology of endodontic infections
- The use of lasers in dentistry
- Improving the quality of life based on oral health
- Orofacial pain and temporomandibular disorders
- Epidemiology and Prevention
- Epidemiology of dental trauma in children and adolescents
- Implantology, prosthetics and microbiology
- Dental implantology and prosthetic rehabilitation
- The mineralized tissue
- Investigations of morphological and biomechanical aspects in orthodontics
- Anatomy, physiology and anthropology of the stomatogenous system
- Forensic dentistry and paleostomatology