Kentucky Oral Health Innovation Initiative

The Kentucky Oral Health Innovation Initiative (KOHII) is a new university-based initiative that aims to address health disparities in the commonwealth by advancing and uplifting the value of oral health. KOHII is based at the College of Dentistry’s Center for Oral Health Research (COHR) and was launched in partnership with the UK College of Public Health and UK College of Medicine.


KOHII establishes a new infrastructure designed to support and advance clinical, translational, and health services research related to oral/systemic health, public health, and health disparities. The three innovations of the initiative include:

  1. Integration: Building support for greater integration of oral health into local overall health service delivery systems.
  2. Information: Fostering partnerships among community members and the university for the generation of new information and knowledge.
  3. Research Leadership: Creating new education and training opportunities to develop future leaders in dental public health and translational research, and expanding the research workforce needed to realize the KOHII mission.

The overall structure aligns research initiatives with NIH-NIDCR strategic planning research priorities.



Three main goals guide KOHII’s current activities: 

  1. Strengthen oral health disparities research and its integration with strategic health disparities research across the University of Kentucky;
  2. Reduce related health disparities in the Commonwealth, and; 
  3. Re-establish dental public health capacity at UK for sustainability and growth of these efforts. 


  • Minimizing Risks from COVID-19 in Dental Practices: This study aims to develop a web-based guidebook  to strengthen the ability of Kentucky’s safety-net dental practices to provide safe oral healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic and future health crises. Investigators: Dr. Kevin Pearce (UK College of Medicine), Dr. Daria Stone (UK College of Dentistry), Dr. Rick Ingram (UK College of Dentistry/UK College of Public Health) & Dr. Corrine Williams (UK College of Public Health)

  • Dental Home Entryway During a Pandemic: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted access to routine and emergency dental care all over the world. The objective of this study was to evaluate how the pandemic has affected dental care in an academic setting in the U.S. Investigators: Dr. Susan Bishop (UK College of Dentistry), Ralph Catalano, Malini Kirakodu (UK College of Dentistry), Dr. Wes Coffman (UK College of Dentistry), Dr. Craig Miller (UK College of Dentistry) & Dr. Luciana Shaddox (UK College of Dentistry)

  • Differential analysis of inflammatory mediators between African American and Caucasians: The aim of this study is to determine if there is a difference in inflammatory chemo/cytokine mediators in the gingival crevicular fluid (GCF) and a different inflammatory response to bacterial LPS in Caucasians compared to African Americans. Investigators: Dr. Rubelisa C. G. Oliveira (UK College of Dentistry), Sree Kirakodu (UK College of Dentistry), Dr. Jussara Goncalves Fernandes (UK College of Dentistry) & Dr. Luciana Shaddox (UK College of Dentistry)

  • Implementing Value-Based Metrics into Kentucky’s Safety-Net Dental Clinics to Promote Integration, Improve Oral and Overall Health, and Expand Health Information Technology Capacity: KPCA primary lead, proposal submitted and under consideration. Investigators to include: Dr. Daria Stone (UK College of Dentistry)

  • Applying an Equity Lens to Kentucky’s Oral Health Safety-Net:  Evaluate, Education, Effect Change!: UK/KOHII primary lead, proposal submitted and under consideration. Investigators to include:  Dr. Kevin Pearce (UK College of Medicine), Dr. Daria Stone (UK College of Dentistry), Dr. Rick Ingram (UK College of Dentistry/UK College of Public Health), Dr. Corrine Williams (UK College of Public Health) & Dr. Luciana Shaddox (UK College of Dentistry)


Get Involved/Contact Us

Our Team

BrownCourtney Brown, MSW (she/her/hers)
KOHII Research Coordinator, College of Dentistry

DawsonDawn Dawson, RDH, CCRC (she/her/hers)
Research Hygienist and Dental Study Coordinator, College of Dentistry

IngramRick Ingram, PhD (he/him/his)
Associate Professor, College of Dentistry and College of Public Health

MullinsRaynor Mullins, DMD, MPH (he/him/his)
Emeritus Faculty, Dental Public Health, College of Dentistry

Kevin Pearce, MD, MPH (he/him/his)
Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, College of Medicine

ShaddoxLuciana Macchion Shaddox, DDS, MS, PhD (she/her/hers)
Professor and Associate Dean of Research, Division of Periodontology, College of Dentistry

Nikki Stone, DMD (she/her/hers)
Dental Outreach Director, UK North Fork Valley Community Health Center, Associate Professor, College of Dentistry

VanArsdallPam Van Arsdall DMD, MPH (she/her/hers)
Professor & Chief, Public Health Dentistry, College of Dentistry

WilliamsCorrine Williams, PhD (she/her/hers)
Associate Professor, Department of Health, Behavior & Society, College of Public Health




References: 1. Zachary, B. D., & Weintraub, J. A. (2020). Oral Health and COVID-19: Increasing the Need for Prevention and Access. Preventing Chronic Disease, 17. 2. Kane S. F. (2017). The effects of oral health on systemic health. General dentistry, 65(6), 30–34. 3. Delta Dental (2021, March 18). The connection between oral and mental health. Delta Dental Grin. 4. Office of Health Equity (2017). The 2017 Minority Health Status Report. Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Department for Public Health. 5. Centers for Disease Control (2020). Children’s oral health: Overview. 6. Synder, A., Kaye, N. & Mention, N. (2016). Managed Care For Medicaid Dental Services: Insights from Kentucky. American Dental Association National Academy for State Health Policy. American Dental Association (2015). Oral health and wellbeing in Kentucky. Health Policy Institute. United Health Foundation (2020). Kentucky summary 2020. America’s Health Rankings. 9. U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. U.S. Cancer Statistics Data Visualizations Tool, based on 2019 submission data (1999-2017): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Cancer Institute;, released in June 2020. 10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health. BRFSS Prevalence & Trends Data [online]. 2015. [accessed Mar 19, 2021]. URL:

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