School of Dental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Susan Bissett

NIHR Fellow



I am a dental hygienist and as such I belong to a group of dental care professionals (DCPs) allied to dentistry (i.e. dental nurses, dental technicians, dental therapists and hygienists).  DCPs do not have a structured career pathway at the present time and having the opportunity to work in a clinical academia conducting research is rare. In 2014, I was successful in being awarded an NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship (DRF), the first dental hygienist to receive such an award. My fellowship started in January 2015 and my full time hours were divided between my Doctoral Research Fellowship (0.75 FTE over 4 years) and my Team Lead role (the remaining 0.25 FTE). I submitted my thesis and passed my viva with minor corrections (December 2018) within the time lines established by NIHR. My Masters (MClinRes, 2012) and DRF research explored interprofessional collaboration between medicine and dentistry in the context of periodontitis and diabetes; and during the final phase of my fellowship I piloted two oral health interventions in primary care medical practices in the North of England to screen for early detection and referral of people with diabetes and periodontitis to a dentist for assessment and treatment as necessary. I am Honorary Team Lead for Oral and Dental Research and I manage the Dental Clinical Research Facility (DCRF), which opened in Newcastle Dental Hospital in November 2011.

Roles and responsibilities

Research Fellow

Honorary Team Lead for Oral & Dental Research

Centre for Oral & Dental Research Executive Committee member

Dental Directorate Clinical Governance Committee member



Degree of Doctor of Philosophy 2019

Masters in Clinical Research 2012

Advanced Diploma in Further Education and Training 2004

Diploma in Dental Hygiene 1994


Research Interest

My masters and DRF research have been in the context of diabetes and periodontitis (gum disease). These two diseases share a reciprocal relationship; and systematic reviews have shown that the treatment of periodontal disease can result in improved glycaemic control (HbA1c reduction up to 4 mmol/mol), equivalent to second line diabetes medication. This bidirectional relationship is generally unknown by patients with diabetes and the medical teams that manage their care, despite evidence spanning two decades (in the dental literature mostly). Previous research found that although a lack of knowledge on the medical teams behalf was an issue, there was more to the phenomenon. Medical and dental professionals work in very different systems and this can cause operational barriers to communication.

The title of my PhD thesis was 'Development of oral health interventions for the interprofessional management of diabetes'.

I am also interested in:

  1. Implementation science.
  2. Behaviour change.
  3. Developing the roles of dental care professionals.
  4. Inter-professional communication between medical and dental teams.