School of Dentistry

School of Dentistry Research Groups

I. Nanomedicine Group

Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular and supramolecular scale. A more generalized description of nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers. This definition reflects the fact that quantum mechanical effects are important at this scale and so the definition of nanotechnology is a research category inclusive of all types of research and technologies that deal with the special properties of matter which occur below the given size threshold. The nanomedicine research group in the School of Dentistry is supported by appropriately furnished laboratory facilities and suitably qualified academic staff. Nanoparticles have been developed and tested as potential antimicrobial agents for root canal disinfection. Laboratory studies have reported that nanoparticles such as chitosan, silver and bioactive glass exhibit broad-spectrum antibacterial activity as well as increased dentine penetrability. By working with interdisciplinary collaborators at UCLan, our group seeks to explore the potential application of nanotechnology-based intervention in improving current antimicrobial strategies to treat endodontic problems related to secondary root canal infection.

This work of the nanotechnology group will help dental clinicians of the future to predict management of infected teeth and improve their overall endodontic prognosis.

Faculty Theme Lead: Professor Frank Martin
Faculty Group Lead: Kamalinder Singh
School of Dentistry Group Lead: Professor Richard Welbury

(L-R) IMR32 cells: Fluorescein-phalloidin labelling shows the actin cytoskeletal protein (green) in its filamentous structures and confirms that the IMR32 cells are not stressed. Activated microglia: P. gingivalis-infected mouse brain stained with an HLA class II antibody. The activated phenotype of microglia is in which their processes (red filaments) have become thickened in response to the infection.

II. Dementia and Neurodegeneration (including Dental Biofilm Research Group) – Previously named Oral and Dental sciences Research Group)

The pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) remains an enigma and the fact that there are no adequate treatments for this disease means research remains an open field. There is a rising healthcare cost associated with the management of AD with an already stretched service provision. The newly formed World Dementia Council outlined key challenges of tackling dementia. One key priority is to examine the modifiable risk factors that influence the development of AD. A risk factor relationship between periodontal pathogens and periodontal disease and AD is suggested by improved memory following dental intervention. In addition, periodontitis is one of the most easily manageable risk factors for a number of conditions including cardio/cerebrovascular pathologies and diabetes, which are often co-morbid with ageing and AD. Our key findings linking periodontitis with AD include demonstration of the keystone periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis and adverse effects of innate immune mediators on host’s blood-brain barrier and mental health in mice models. Our research continues searching oral bacterial links with AD hallmark proteins such as amyloid-beta (Aβ) and abnormal tau protein in relation to the appearance of AD pathology whilst educating the public on reducing the incidence of periodontal disease may provide numerous health benefits in later life.

Faculty Theme Lead: Professor Colin Davidson
Faculty Group Lead: Dr Milos Petrovic
School of Dentistry Group Lead: Dr Simarjit Kaur Singhrao

Rugby: A significant contact sport.

III. Head Injury Management Group

Typically, those who sustain a single concussion have a complete and rapid resolution of symptoms after injury. However, persistent symptoms at three months can occur in 20% of those who do not recover from their initial injury.  Approximately 2-4% of these will develop permanent symptoms. There is a suggestion that repeated concussion prolongs the recovery time after each incident.

Patients who suffer a concussion can display a wide variety of signs and symptoms after injury and it is difficult to encompass these with a single test. Our research revolves around non-invasive tests that cover all the symptoms set out in the 2012 Zurich Consensus meeting on concussion: eye movement; memory recall; balance and coordination. If they show a similar sensitivity and specificity to the current gold standard then they could be used in the semi-professional and amateur games, as well the professional game, thereby improving safety and reducing the risk of traumatic brain injury for all athletes.

Baseline scores are recorded pre-season and then repeated after a concussive episode to inform the length of recovery and rehabilitation required. Post- concussion athletes also receive an MRI scan in Birmingham with our research collaborators to measure the ratios of brain chemicals related to concussion. Our collaborators are: England and Wales Cricket Board; England Rugby; The Rugby League; University of Birmingham and University College, London.

Faculty Theme Lead: Professor Colin Davidson
Faculty Group Lead: Mr Douglas Hammond
School of Dentistry Group lead: Dr Douglas Hammond

IV. Clinical Sciences Group

The focus of the group in the School of Dentistry is to examine the extended role of dentists and dental care professionals in general medical health screening and promotion.  This recognises that a large proportion of the public are regular attendees at the dentist and this makes dental practices potentially excellent locations to detect undiagnosed conditions. The group aims to explore the perceived barriers to provision of this care both from within the dental profession and within the general public and seeks to develop screening protocols that will address them. The clinical and cost effectiveness of these screening approaches are also being investigated. Additionally, the group recognises the importance of public involvement and is developing projects with the public around the promotion of early diagnosis of medical conditions. Current projects are focused on diabetes and atrial fibrillation and the high proportion of individuals that remain undiagnosed, however other medical conditions are also being explored.

Faculty Theme Lead: Professor Umesh Chauhan
Faculty Group Lead: Professor Cathy Jackson
School of Dentistry Group Lead: Dr Nic Hodson

V. Healthcare Education Research Group (HERG)

The focus of the group in the School of Dentistry concerns itself with the impact and effectiveness of education on all members of the dental team, in training and in work.

We have been successful in attracting funding to support several research projects. These range from a study of the predictive value of pre-admission tests and students’ performance on the Dentistry course, to a comparison of the attitudes and perseverance of dental students and hygiene and therapy students; and investigating the effects and opportunities of inter-professional learning. Members of the group are evaluating the use of the flipped learning approach in teaching, and assessing the learning styles of graduate entry students. We also work in the wider educational arena measuring the effects that the UCLan model of dental training within a community setting has on the public in the local area and on the student’s professional development. A further large-scale project is following recent dental graduates in their early years to evaluate their readiness for independent practice, collecting information from the graduates and their educational supervisors.

We intend to make a significant contribution to pedagogic research and the development of dental education. We are working with our colleagues in medical education and are looking to collaborate with teachers in other institutions and across faculties at UCLan to share and learn.

Faculty Theme and Group Lead: Dr Morris Gordon
School of Dentistry Group Leads: Professor Dominic Stewardson
Dr Angela Magee

Any general enquiries: Professor Richard Welbury. Research Lead School of Dentistry
Dr Karen Rouse. Research Degree Tutor School of Dentistry