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Dr Nihal Bandara

Dr Nihal Bandara

Dr Nihal Bandara
BDS (HONS), PhD (H.K.)

Lecturer in Oral Microbiology

Lower Maudlin Street,
Bristol, BS1 2LY
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Microbial communal interactions in many natural ecosystems, are yet to be fully unravelled. Hence my major research interest has been to elucidate physical and chemical interactions of microbes in competitive polymicrobial environments (fungal-bacterial biofilm communities in particular) to understand in depth the physiology of microbial communal lifestyle, as well as to define novel molecular pathways that can be targeted for translational research in future. In particular, the work I have undertaken thus far aims to characterize the response of the human fungal pathogen Candida to various bacterial quorum sensing signals (QSMs) using an inter–kingdom, fungal-bacterial interaction model system. Findings from my core research, such as the quorum sensing interaction between microbes, can be strategically translated to improve eco-balance in favour of beneficial organisms in host-parasite tussles or in industrial settings. Such possibilities not only include combating diseases (e.g. development of therapeutic agents to resolve catheter borne infections, biofilm mediated infections such as oral candidiasis, cystic fibrosis and root infections in plants, introducing probiotics to maintain gut microbiome), but also introducing beneficial microorganisms or their by-products to harmful microbial biofilms in industrial settings and other ecosystems (e.g. those that clog pipe borne water in effluent systems), introducing beneficial microbes to naturally fertilize farm fields, generating biofuel via biodegradation, purifying water and preserving dairy products.


I received my Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) with honours from The University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, and graduated with honours as the Most Outstanding Dental Student of Sri Lanka (2001-2006). Subsequently, I was awarded my Ph.D. in Oral Microbiology from The Faculty of Dentistry, the University of Hong Kong in 2011 under the supervision of Prof Lakshman Samaranayake, Prof. L. J. Jin and Dr Rory Watt. My thesis was based on the communal interactions of Candida albicans, and bacteria in mixed species biofilms. After a brief 4 month research associate role in the University of Hong Kong, I joined the laboratory of Prof. Hugh Smyth at the College of Pharmacy, University of Texas at Austin, Texas, USA in 2012 as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow to pursue work on novel approaches for drug delivery into microbial biofilms. After completion of my first postdoctoral fellowship, I moved to the School of Dentistry, University of Queensland, Australia in 2014 as a Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow and continued to work on fungal bacterial interactions and quorum sensing in mixed biofilm infections. I was appointed as a lecturer in oral microbiology at University of Bristol in 2017.

My current research focuses on bacterial-fungal interactions in polymicrobial infections/environments, quorum sensing and antimicrobial resistance.

In addition, I have been appointed as the Director of the International Foundation Programme for Medicine and Dentistry in the faculty of Health Sciences at University of Bristol in 2018.


I deliver lectures, conduct tutorials and practical sessions (classroom) and supervise research projects within the Bristol Dental School and the University of Bristol. I teach immunology for dental professionals and anatomy and physiology of teeth.


  • Candida spp.
  • biofilms
  • microbial physiology
  • Candida-bacterial mixed species biofilms
  • Inter-microbial communication
  • quorum sensing
  • host-biofilm interactions
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • probiotics
  • natural anti-biofilm therapeutic agents
  • biofilm drug delivery
  • drug excipients
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • next generation sequencing
  • cystic fibrosis
  • oral candidiasis
  • salivary amino acids



Bristol Dental School

Academic staff

Research programmes

Research groups

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system


Dr Bandara currently teaches 3 courses:

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