Bristol Dental School has a long-established interdisciplinary research culture with tight links between clinical dentistry and basic scientific research.
As a result, our research laboratories are located close to clinical facilities such as the Clinical Trials Unit, patient clinics and primary care units.
We receive funding from a range of organisations including the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), The Healing Foundation, The Wellcome Trust and various research councils, among others.
The school hosts two overarching research groups:
- Lifecourse Epidemiology and Population Oral Health
- Microbiology and Materials
Each of these overarching groups has a research convenor– Professor Andy Ness and Dr Angela Nobbs respectively.
The school has two affiliated groups– the Cleft Collective and the Clinical Trials Unit. These are led by Professor Jonathan Sandy and Professor Nicola West respectively.
Clinical academics are affiliated to one (or more) of these groups but are also part of a support network for clinical academics co-ordinated by Professor Steve Thomas.
Lifecourse Epidemiology and Population Oral Health
Lifecourse Epidemiology and Population Oral Health (LEPOH)
LEPOH is led by Professor Andy Ness and comprises academics with expertise in epidemiology, statistics, psychology, social science and nutrition, as well as clinicians and research nurses. The main research areas are head and neck cancer (including Head and Neck 5000, a DNA backed clinical cohort of 5,500 people with head and neck cancer), and nutrition (via the NIHR Bristol Biomedical Research Centre Nutrition Theme). LEPOH group members also lead various aspects of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching within the School and across the Faculty of Health Sciences.
Microbiology and Materials
The Biomaterials Engineering group (bioMEG) works in the area of materials processing and surface engineering for biomedical applications. Our focus is on both basic research in scientific understanding of materials fabrication and applied research in materials solutions for clinical needs. Our current research activities are mainly in two areas: (1) cell-instructive surfaces and materials. We explore physical cues i.e. surface topography and mechanical stiffness to modulate cells and bacteria to develop smart implants and tissue engineering scaffolds; (2) biomimetic and bio-inspired materials. We explore a top-down approach to develop biomimetic materials with controlled hierarchical structures for dental and orthopaedic applications.
The Oral Microbiology research group conducts studies into the survival strategies of microorganisms, their colonisation and virulence factors, and the interactions that occur between microbes or between microbe and host, especially in the development of microbial communities (biofilms). These studies impinge on many aspects of both oral and systemic health and disease. Areas of particular focus include colonisation and pathogenesis mechanisms of Streptococcus bacteria and of fungus Candida albicans.
The Oral Nanoscience group is interested in multi-functional biomaterials. In particular, we are interested in antimicrobial materials which resist microbial colonisation and biofilm formation. Examples of this include dental filling materials and sealants and polymers for catheters and dental ligatures, as well as topical agents for periodontal disease and foot disease in farm animals. We are also active in the field of nanoreinforced biomaterials, particularly for dental applications.
The School has two affiliated research groups
The Cleft Collective
The Cleft Collective investigates the biological and environmental causes of cleft, the best treatments for cleft, and the psychological impact of cleft on those affected and their families. The Cleft Collective Cohort Study started in March 2015 and is continuing to recruit. We worked with Patient and Pubic Involvement/Engagement as a priority at the start of the study and this continues. Sixteen out of 17 Cleft Centres are currently recruiting. Currently, we have 5,246 individuals from 1996 families recruited into the study. We have established linkage (NHS Digital, National Pupil Database) and are working in three mains areas (genetics, psychology and speech). The Cleft Trainee Collaborative are working with us to validate phenotype and we are collecting cord blood for unique epigenetic data. This is a resource which can probably only be established in the UK because all these children are treated in the NHS.
The Clinical Trials Unit
The Clinical Trials Unit is long established in the international periodontal arena of research with regards to dentine hypersensitivity and toothwear, prevention of plaque and gingivitis and treatment of diseases of the periodontium. In recent years our research interests have expanded to include studies that investigate the links between Alzheimer’s disease and periodontal disease, test the ability of autologous technologies to improve healing and bone regeneration and aim to identify the relative influence of risk factors on oral disease prevalence in the population. Study methodologies include randomised clinical trials, non-interventional clinical studies for epidemiological data and laboratory based techniques.
The international excellence of research output, impact and environment at Bristol Dental School has been confirmed by the results of the Research Excellence Framework 2014
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Did you know?
We are the only dental school in the UK to have an theme within a Biomedical Research Centre as a core part of its research activity.