I received a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in Microbiology at the University of Warwick. In 1998 I started to apply my experience to the field of Oral Microbiology as a Post-Doctoral researcher in Prof. Howard Jenkinson's group at the Bristol Dental School. I obtained a National Institutes of Health Post-Doctoral Fellowship in 2004 to work in Dr Paul Kolenbrander's lab at the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research in Bethseda, MD, USA. I joined Newcastle Dental School as Lecturer in Oral Microbiology in 2007 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2014.
I am Director and Senior Tutor for Stage 2 of the BDS Programme. I also co-ordinate intercalation within the School of Dental Sciences. I participate in a number of administration committees for BDS (Stages 1 and 2) and MRes. I am also a member of the Faculty of Medical Sciences Research Strategy Committee.
1994 BSc in Biochemistry (Cambridge)
1998 PhD in Microbiology (Warwick)
1998-2004 Post-Doctoral researcher, Bristol Dental School
2004-2007 Post-Doctoral Fellow, NIDCR, Bethesda, MD, USA
Society for Applied Microbiology, member of the Executive Committee (http://www.sfam.org.uk/)
Society for General Microbiology
Molecular mechanisms of adhesion and colonisation by oral streptococci.
Bacterial biofilm formation, and the structure of biofilm matrices.
Interactions and communication between bacteria in mixed-species biofilms.
The formation of biofilms on dental materials.
I have edited a book on Oral Microbial Ecology, published in 2013 (http://www.horizonpress.com/oral-ecology)
Dental caries and periodontitis (gum disease) are the leading causes of tooth loss in the Western World. Both of these diseases originate from dental plaque, a complex mixture of numerous different bacteria that accumulates on tooth surfaces between cleaning procedures. Detailed molecular studies of bacterial virulence factors require pure cultures of isolated strains, and therefore most of these studies have been conducted on bacteria in monoculture. However, it is becoming clear that bacteria adapt very rapidly to their surroundings and that they alter their make-up upon contact with other bacterial species or with a human host. My research aims to identify changes that occur when one bacterial species interacts with another or with human tissues.
I am also interested in the structure of mixed-species biofilms, and in particular the nature of the extracellular matrix that surrounds bacterial cells and protects them from antimicrobial agents. I am currently collaborating with a team that spans Marine Biotechnology, Chemistry and clinical researchers in a number of different dental and medical disciplines to investigate the potential of novel enzymes to disperse microbial biofilms. This work is focussed on a range of biofilms in the mouth and in the head and neck region as a whole, including biofilms that form on artificial speech valves, in the paranasal sinuses (causing chronic rhinosinusitis) and in the middle ear (causing glue ear).
Biofilm formation on artificial surfaces that are placed in the body is particularly problematic since, unlike our own tissues, the artificial surfaces do not contain protective mechanisms to limit microbial colonisation. Work in my lab is aimed towards understanding how micro-organisms interact with different surfaces such as acrylic materials used for prosthodontics, with a view to providing more effective measures for reducing microbial contamination.
Currently (2016-17): main supervisor for 5 PhD students.
International Association for Dental Research Innovation in Oral Care Award 2016 USD $75,000.
I am Director of Stage 2 of the BDS programme.
I lead the BDS Stage 2 Microbiology for Dentistry course, and the Stage 2 Orientation. I also teach in Stage 1 BDS Cell Biology and Stage 5 BDS '.Current Opinion' course.
I supervise undergraduate student laboratory projects from Biomedical Sciences and I regularly supervise summer student projects in the lab.
I teach on the 'Genomics of Infectious Disease' module of the MSc in Genomic Medicine and on the MClinDent course in the School of Dental Sciences.