School of Dental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Nicholas Jakubovics

Senior Lecturer

Background

Introduction

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 Bethesda, MD, USA. I joined Newcastle Dental School as Lecturer in Oral Microbiology in 2007 and became Senior Lecturer in 2014.

Roles and Responsibilities

Director and Senior Tutor for Stage 2 of the BDS Programme

Intercalation Co-ordinator within the School of Dental Sciences 

Biological and GM Safety Supervisor (Dental Sciences) and Member of University Biosafety Committee

Associate Editor of the Journal of Dental Research and member of several editorial boards

Area of expertise

Oral microbiology

Qualifications

1994 BSc in Biochemistry (Cambridge)
1998 PhD in Microbiology (Warwick)

Previous Positions

1998-2004 Post-Doctoral researcher, Bristol Dental School
2004-2007 Post-Doctoral Fellow, NIDCR, Bethesda, MD, USA

Memberships

Society for Applied Microbiology (http://www.sfam.org.uk/); member of the Microbiologist Editorial Group
Society for General Microbiology

International Association for Dental Research

Google scholar: Click here.

SCOPUS: Click here.

Research

For more information about my research group, please visit my blog at: https://blogs.ncl.ac.uk/nickjakubovics 


Research Interests

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)

Current Work

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 group aims to identify changes that occur when one bacterial species interacts with another or with human tissues.

We are 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. We have shown that extracellular DNA is an important component of microbial biofilms such as dental plaque. We are developing enzymes to control biofilms by degrading the DNA. 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.

Future Research

Future work will continue to be directed towards understanding the molecular mechanisms of bacterial cell-cell interactions and biofilm formation. The development of new agents for disrupting biofilm matrices is a high priority.

Postgraduate Supervision

Lead supervisor for 5 PhD students.

Funding

International Association for Dental Research Innovation in Oral Care Award 2016 USD $75,000.

Teaching

Undergraduate Teaching

Director of Stage 2 of the BDS programme.

Course lead for BDS Stage 2 Microbiology for Dentistry course.

Teacher on 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.

Postgraduate Teaching

I teach on the 'Genomics of Infectious Disease' module of the MSc in Genomic Medicine, parts of the MRes programme and on the MClinDent course in the School of Dental Sciences.

Publications