Dr. Irene Minja is a Senior lecturer in the department of Restorative Dentistry at the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences. She is a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), and holds master of Philosophy in Dentistry (MPhilDent) and doctoral (PhD) degrees in community dentistry, specializing in oral health and quality of life of the elderly.
Dr. Minja’s research interests are in oral health of the elderly and oral health related quality of life. She had an opportunity to conduct research on tooth loss, oral impacts on daily performances and satisfaction with chewing ability among older adults in Tanzania which led to PhD. She has, as well, supervised students in research on elderly people in Tanzania, which include oral conditions such as xerostomia, root caries and currently, analyzing data on oral impacts on daily performances among the aging population living with HIV/AIDS. As an instructor in dental biomaterials Dr. Irene is also interested in dental biomaterials research. In collaboration with faculty at the Turku Clinical Biomaterials Center, University of Turku, Finland, Dr. Irene conducted lab-based study to assess properties of different denture-base materials, the findings are currently under review for publication.
Dr. Irene has been at forefront in health research and education training. As an alumna of Fulbright African Senior Research Scholar – Program and Curriculum Development Award. Dr. Irene had an opportunity to visit the Department of Epidemiology and Health promotion in the College of Dentistry of the New York University – College of Dentistry, New York, U.S.A. During the four months at the NYU, she developed an evidence-based dentistry undergraduate curriculum, under the supervision, guidance and mentorship of Prof. Ralph Katz. As an Investigator, she has developed a proposal and have obtained an ethical clearance to conduct a Survey of knowledge, attitudes, skills and practice of evidence-based dentistry (EBD) among dental students and dentists in Tanzania. Correspondingly, in this survey she and her co-workers expect to find out the barriers and facilitators of EBD practice, so that it can be implemented appropriately in Tanzania. As a mentor of a Tanzanian Global Health Scholar in Oral Health, a curriculum was developed for training of primary health care nurses on oral health issues in Tanzania. The developed curriculum was adapted from ‘Smiles for Life; A National Oral Health Curriculum’ that is based in the United States, containing modules that are applicable for the culture and population of Tanzania.
Dr. Minja is currently a member of management team representing Tanzania in a NORPART-2018 funded project titled: Establishment of a joint research-based education in dentistry in Norway and East Africa. In collaboration with the University of Bergen, Norway, and other universities in East Africa, this project aims to develop and establish a standardized educational platform for global oral health discipline, related joint courses and research projects in the collaborating institutions. She is, as well a senior investigator at the Sickle Pan-African Research Consortium (SPARCO) contributing to the management and administration of different projects to ensure that program goals are achieved in line with the institutional policies and regulations of sponsored programs. Additionally, she is a member of the Skills Development working group – SPARCO Tanzania site, currently, developing fundable proposals in the areas of health research training; and oral health of patients with sickle cell disease. Dr. Irene is an author and co-author of more than 21 publications in peer review journals, and chapters in books. She had edited two books.