School of Dentistry Research Groups

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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.


Dr Shalini Kanagasingam and Dr Sim Singhrao from the School of Dentistry were awarded an initial Oral and Dental Research Trust, Oral Health Innovation-ODRT OHI- (PreViser) Award of £4,907.00  in May 2018 and a follow up award of £5000 (together with Emeritus Prof RR Welbury) in April 2019 to study the  Role of periodontal/endodontic pathogens in the development of the sporadic form of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Shalini Kanagasingam from the School of Dentistry was awarded the TC White ‘Young Researcher Award’ of £10,000 in June 2019 from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. She will use the grant to further her work with Dr Sim Singhrao into the importance of endo-perio lesions in the development of tau-neurofibrillary tangles in Alzheimer’s Disease.

Faculty Theme Lead: Professor Colin Davidson
Faculty Group Lead: Dr Vassilios Beglopoulos​
School of Dentistry Group Lead: Dr Simarjit Kaur Singhrao

Rugby: A significant contact sport.

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

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 Dominic Stewardson​

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

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

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