UCSF gets $4M grant to teach AI to spot cavities

Dentist Xray Computer

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Dentistry has received a $4 million grant to develop a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool that is designed to detect cavities in the hopes of identifying tooth decay earlier.

The grant will help train students, residents, and faculty in conducting clinical research and assessing AI technology to expedite advancements in treatment methods, according to a press release dated November 28 from UCSF. Diagnosing cavities earlier prevents pain and more invasive and costly treatments like root canals or extractions.

Researchers will use dental images from dental clinics in Northern California to develop the AI tool. By training their AI tool on scans from patients representing California's population, UCSF aims for the AI tool to be equipped to serve the state's diverse population, which includes the urban areas of San Francisco and the rural sections of Fresno, according to Dr. Stuart Ganksy, MS, lead investigator and UCSF's associate dean for research. 

The U.S. National Institutes of Health is funding the five-year grant. Also, dental faculty members can apply for more than $5 million in annual funding for their own clinical research projects.  

“As a public institution with a long tradition in health equity research, UCSF is uniquely positioned to ensure the future of AI in oral health is patient-centered and equitable,” Gansky said in the press release. 

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