2015 Head of School Report

Pictured: Back row: Matthew Pintus, Toby Beal, Joe Hughes, Chris Ikunnah, Ben Walker, Mansoor Patel, Haaris Hussain. Front row: Benny Harrison, Ben Gregory, Nick Potter, Alex Rovira-Wilde, Tom Szalks, Jake Watts.

Superb research performance

UK Universities have recently undergone a government assessment now known as the Research Exercise Framework (REF). Just before Christmas the results of the REF were announced in which we did exceptionally well. I am delighted to inform you that the School of Dentistry as part of the Unit of Assessment 3 (Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy) was judged to be number one of the 94 submissions from across the UK in terms of overall research performance including outputs, environment and impact. This measure is described as ‘research power’ and is the most commonly cited. This was a superb result and confirms our UK premier position.

Our students created and hosted the first ever British Undergraduate Dental Research Conference. This was held in March 2015 at University Place with research talks by Professors Kevin O’Brien, Iain Pretty, Helen Worthington and myself in the morning and a series of workshops in the afternoon. Around 250 students attended what was an enthusiastic and inspiring day!

Around 20 members of Dental School staff have been in Boston, USA, for the annual International Association of Dental Research (IADR) meeting. We presented research, chaired sessions, attended business and Council meetings, and ran Workshops and Symposia. We had a booth at the exhibition and also hosted a School Reception. There were 6,500 delegates there, but I think we managed to make a significant contribution, as you would expect from a top research School!

The School hosts the Cochrane Oral Health Group that is very active. A recent Cochrane Review on Xylitol (a popular sweetener) for preventing caries concluded that there is limited evidence from RCTs to prove it is effective. There were press releases from Cochrane and The University as they suspected it would receive a lot of attention because xylitol manufacturers claim it prevents tooth decay, and it is recommended in several US guidelines. It did receive a huge amount of media attention, (unsurprisingly it is mostly from North America)! Staff fielded questions from Reuters and the ADA. Similar high profile international attention has been paid to another recent review about water fluoridation.

Building refurbishment

The Dental School Academic Offices moved into the Coupland 3 Building, previously the Old Medical School, adjacent to the Dental Hospital a few years ago and the building is currently undergoing a major refurbishment.

GDC visit

The General Dental Council inspect undergraduate dental programmes every few years to ensure that they are sufficient to allow entry to practice registration. We had an inspection of our BDS programme in 2014 and an inspection of our BSc Oral Health Science Programme recently. The inspection teams meet with myself and a large number of staff delivering the courses, the students on our programmes, and review a large number documents presented before and at the inspection. The inspection teams also observe the final examinations. The report following our BDS programme inspection was very positive and we await the one following the BSc inspection.

Parties and student balls

Students still work hard but know how to enjoy themselves! The spring black-tie Student Ball was held this year at the Imperial War Museum with a Fun Fair theme! There were around 250 undergraduate BDS and BSc students and staff present for a really wonderful evening. There were student and staff awards, professional photographers, a table magician, a caricature artist, a photo-booth, fun fair booths, a live band and DJ together with a great meal. Graduation Ball was held in June at the Midland Hotel and was a similarly fantastic evening of celebration.

Sporting success

The Dental School Netball team has been successful this year in winning their division of the Campus Netball League. The team is a mix of girls from BDS and BSC years 1-5. The Dental School football team have won the league (ISSL Division 1) and gained promotion to the ISSL Premier League in the process! This means that they will be competing against the best sides in the university next season. This has never been done before and is a real achievement considering the team is drawn from a School with smaller numbers of students than others in the University.

Top (left to right) Hannah Barrow, Lauren Palmer, Amy Greenwood, Keeley Pigott, Roisin Lancaster, Alice Hopkins Bottom (left to right) Annie Haddon, Alannah Birtwistle,
Chimene Langley, Alicia Wade, Helena Loynes, Claire Nelson.

Global dental school

We have a number of Kuwaiti undergraduate and postgraduate students in our School and I have regular meetings with the Cultural Attaché, and her team at the Embassy of the State of Kuwait in London.

We attended the AEEDC in Dubai in February, a huge International Dental Conference, where we’ve had a School of Dentistry stand for the last few years as a way of promoting our reputation.

The Dean and others at the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine, Boston University, USA, are very keen to formally collaborate with us (research and student exchange) as are The Université Paris Diderot, also known as Paris 7. This leading French University and their Dental School want us to collaborate and validate some of the postgraduate programmes. We already have a strong relationship with NYU School of Dentistry via the Cochrane Oral Group staff in our School. It seems as though our global reputation is now strong and we should congratulate ourselves. We are a very strong School and it is good to be recognized!

Professor Paul Coulthard

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