Finding Purpose in Truth

by Dr. Rella Christenson

Dr. Rella Christensen is revered for her work as a researcher, scientist and published author in the dental industry. Today, she has presented more than 1,040 continuing education programs; published more than 115 abstracts; and served as lead scientist and author of more than 1,800 published studies in Clinical Research Associates (CRA) Foundation (presently, Clinicians Report). 

I hope we can solve the problem so we can work with people’s teeth to make them beautiful instead of having to treat disease.

Dr. Rella Christensen

After graduating from the dental hygiene school at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Dr. Christensen practiced for more than 25 years, as well as a dental lab technician. She later founded the bachelor degree expanded function dental hygiene program at the University of Colorado and was its first director. In 1986, she earned a PhD in physiology, with an emphasis on microbiology, from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. And all of this occurred as she founded Clinical Research Associates (CRA) Foundation in 1976. 


CRA Foundation was established as an institute to independently test well-known dental products. It began as an idea that dental clinicians should have the opportunity to evaluate the products readily available to them for both clinical and scientific purposes. Those who participate receive no outside influence or funding, for the purpose of objectivity. In fact, those who contribute are volunteers, including Dr. Christensen and her husband, Dr. Gordon Christensen. 

In 2004, Dr. Rella Christensen handed over CRA Foundation to focus on large-scale human research studies with Technologies in Restoratives And Caries Research (TRAC Research). This change resulted in a shift for Dr. Christensen; she realized that application of her oral microbiology and PhD degree was what she was predestined to do. “I never had an ambition to be a researcher or scientist,” she shares in episode of Pursuing Purpose. “But it felt very natural,” she says. 


Today, she has found her sense of purpose on an unconventional path. TRAC Research comprises a state-of-the-art laboratory where she and her team work tirelessly to develop the techniques and procedures necessary for combatting oral diseases. “Our story doesn’t really have an end,” Dr. Christensen states. “But I hope that our lab lives on indefinitely—or at least until we’re able to focus exclusively on cosmetics vs treating oral disease.” 

Watch to learn more about Dr. Rella Christensen’s journey and her path to finding purpose through scientific evidence. You’ll be glad you did.

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