The Department is the national administrative base for The National Dental Practice-Based Research Network. The National Network Director is Dr. Gregg Gilbert. The “nation’s network” is a consortium of participating practices and dental organizations committed to advancing knowledge of dental practice and ways to improve it. Essentially, it is "practical science" done about, in, and for the benefit of "real world" daily clinical practice. This means that the practitioner-investigators themselves not only participate in developing study ideas, but also participate in designing, conducting, and communicating this research - all with the intent of having a direct impact on clinical practice in non-academic settings. The network's major source of funding is the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The network comprises practices from six United States regions. In addition to the Birmingham location are hubs in Rochester, New York; Gainesville, Florida; Minneapolis, Minnesota; San Antonio, Texas; and Portland, Oregon.