Professor Paul Cooper BSc (Hons) PhD

Professor Paul Cooper

School of Dentistry
Professor of Oral Biology

Contact details

+44 (0) 121 466 5526
+44 (0) 121 466 5491
The School of Dentistry
5 Mill Pool Way
B5 7EG
United Kingdom

Paul is Professor of Oral Biology, Lead for the Oral Biology teaching module, and Director of Research for the School of Dentistry in the Institute of Clinical Sciences.

He has published over 100 research papers in scientific journals and authored several book chapters in the field of pulp biology and regenerative endodontics. He has delivered more than 20 invited lectures around the world. Paul has received significant funding from the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, NIHR, European Union (EU-FP7) and Industry to support his research. He is also the accountable manager and laboratory lead for the main and molecular biology research laboratories in the School of Dentistry and co-lead for the laboratory design in the new Dental hospital.

Paul completed his postgraduate certificate in learning and teaching in higher education (PGCILTHE) in 2003 and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Paul is module lead for Year 2 BDS Oral Biology module on which he teaches extensively. He also contributes teaching to all years of the Biomaterials (BMedSci) undergraduate degree in the areas of molecular biology, stem cell biology, xenotransplantation and gene therapy.

Paul has served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Dental Research and is currently on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Endodontics and Journal of Periodontal Research. He is a frequent reviewer for more than 20 journals in the dental, molecular biology, immune & inflammatory, stem cell and tissue regenerative fields.

In 2010 Paul was awarded the IADR Distinguished Scientist Young Investigator Award and he is currently the inaugural President of the European Society of Dental and Craniofacial Stem Cells.



  • Genetics, BSc (Hons), Leeds University, UK - 1992


  • PhD in Cancer Genetics, University of Birmingham, UK - 1995
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (PGCILTHE), University of Birmingham, UK - 2003


Paul undertook a BSc degree in Genetics at Leeds University which he completed in 1992. He then undertook a PhD in Cancer Studies at the University of Birmingham, conducting research into cloning of the gene for Ataxia Telangiectasia, which he completed in 1995. He subsequently undertook a postdoctoral position at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York for two years working on the molecular genetics of eye, ear and cancer predisposing disorders and contributed to the cloning of the NBS1 gene (encoding Nibrin) which is mutated in patients with Nijmegen-breakage syndrome.

He returned to the UK in 1998 as a postdoctoral researcher at the Novartis Horsham Research Centre. He worked there 2 years on the identification of molecular targets in granulocytes and epithelium in inflammatory lung diseases such as asthma and COPD. Paul returned to Birmingham in 2000 where he was appointed Lecturer in Molecular Biology and he initiated a programme of research on tissue regeneration and repair and inflammatory/immune aspects of oral and dental diseases. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biology in 2006 and appointed to Professor of Oral Biology in August 2012.

In 2010, he received the prestigious Young Investigator Award from the International Association for Dental Research. He has many research collaborations around the world and frequently speaks at symposia worldwide.

His current main research areas focus on interactions between stem cells, inflammation and tissue regeneration in the dental pulp and oral mucosal.


  • Dental Surgery BDS
  • Lead for the 2nd BDS Oral Biology Module. Lectures, practical classes, tutorials, ecourse & examinations.
  • Teaching and assessment for Biomaterials (all years 1-3).
  • Previous Head of Elective Studies Program / Coordinator & Current Moderator.
  • Developed eDen electronic teaching resource, Royal College of Surgeons.
  •  Undergraduate BDS external examiner.

Postgraduate supervision

  • 25+ PhD students supervised/co-supervised
  • 7 MRes students supervised/co-supervised


Pulp Biology, Dental Caries and Mesenchymal Stem Cell (MSC) Repair

A better understanding of molecular changes which occur in the dentine-pulp complex as a result of disease, dental injury and repair, or in response to the placement of dental materials, will enable the development of new biologically-based treatments. Paul has led projects which have developed techniques enabling low-/high-throughput analysis of gene expression in specific dental cell populations. He has also reported on novel molecular and cellular interactions which occur between the inflammatory response or dental restorative materials and pulpal repair processes. Recent PhD projects have characterised dental pulp MSCs, in terms of isolation, expansion and differentiation, and aim to develop novel technologies to enable use of MSCs in dental and medical treatments.

Molecular and Cellular aspects of Periodontal Disease Pathogenesis

Periodontitis is a chronic bacterial infectious disease resulting in gingival recession, bone loss and ultimately tooth loss. The disease is linked with several systemic chronic inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Evidence indicates that aberrant host defence mechanisms, likely due to excessive oral epithelial or neutrophilic activity in response to bacteria, underpin the disease. In collaboration with other basic scientists and clinicians, Paul has focussed on the molecular and cellular aspects of disease susceptibility. Studies have identified significant differences in terms of hyper-reactivity/–responsivity in patients’ neutrophils. Subsequently, elevated systemic levels of IFNs were potentially identified as being responsible for this phenomenon and this finding (published in the Journal of Immunology) represents a major advance in the understanding of periodontal disease pathogenesis. These data also led to the proposals that Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs), auto-immunity/-inflammation, DNAse deficiency, epigenetics and efferocytosis may be involved in periodontitis pathogenesis. Currently, Paul is co-supervising cross-College studies characterising the role of NETs and their association in RA and periodontitis.

Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Interactions

The development of tissue substitutes is required for the repair/replacement of damaged/diseased tissues. In collaboration, Paul has been involved in characterising how mineralised tissue derived cells respond to tissue engineered scaffolds derived from calcium phosphate and alginate materials. As a collaborator Paul has been involved in a recent NIHR funding enabling the study of the development of a light cured resin for use in orthopaedic repair and an extensively NIHR funded (~£1-million) study focusing on the reasons why bone anchored hearing aid titanium implants fail. Paul’s co-supervision of an overseas funded PhD studentship has identified novel methods for generating tissue engineered oral epithelium and its quantitative histological analysis.

Application of micro-computed tomography (CT) technology for dental and mineralised tissue research

Recently, Paul lead a successful Wellcome Trust bid to obtain a CT scanner housed in the School of Dentistry. He oversees the running of the Micro-Computed Tomography (microCT) core-facility which is also widely used throughout the University. Paul has co-supervised 2 PhD projects which have significantly utilised microCT analysis, i) as part of the Physical Sciences of Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences (PSIBs) Doctoral Training Centre (EPSRC) consortium, and ii) in collaboration with the School of Geography in studies analysing prehistoric sharks teeth.

Low Level Light/Laser Therapy (LLLT) or photobiomodulation for application in dental and oral disease treatments

Recent studies in which Paul is involved have begun to show the potential utility of LLLT or photobiomodulatory therapy to promote oral and dental tissue repair, in particular stem cell responses, and to modulate inflammation. In collaboration, the effect of different light wavelengths and irradiation parameters are being explored as potential means to promote dentine-pulp complex, oral epithelial and immune cell responses in relation to tooth repair and periodontitis management.

Assessment of toothpaste abrasives

Work significantly funded by Industry utilises profilometry, gloss analyses and SEM to investigate mechanistic actions of dental dentifrices in oral hygiene and tissue wear.

Other activities

Member of:

  • International Association of Dental Research (IADR)
  • British Society for Dental Research (BSDR)
  • Association of Basic Science Teachers in Dentistry (ABSTD) - Councillor (2008-2012)
  • Mineralized Tissue Group of BSDR (MINTIG) - Councillor (2004-2009
  • Oral Microbiology Group (OMIG) of BSDR - committee member (2007-2009)


Cooper PR, Palmer LJ, Chapple IL. Neutrophil extracellular traps as a new paradigm in innate immunity: friend or foe? Periodontol 2000. 2013 Oct;63(1):165-97. doi: 10.1111/prd.12025.

Duncan HF, Smith AJ, Fleming GJ, Cooper PR. Histone deacetylase inhibitors epigenetically promote reparative events in primary dental pulp cells. Exp Cell Res. 2013 Jun 10;319(10):1534-43. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2013.02.022.

Milward MR, Chapple IL, Carter K, Matthews JB, Cooper PR. Micronutrient modulation of NF-κB in oral keratinocytes exposed to periodontal bacteria. Innate Immun. 2013;19(2):140-51. doi: 10.1177/1753425912454761.

Holder MJ, Milward MR, Palin WM, Hadis MA, Cooper PR. Effects of red light-emitting diode irradiation on dental pulp cells. J Dent Res. 2012 Oct;91(10):961-6.

Smith AJ, Smith JG, Shelton RM, Cooper PR. Harnessing the natural regenerative potential of the dental pulp. Dent Clin North Am. 2012 Jul;56(3):589-601. doi: 10.1016/j.cden.2012.05.011.

Smith JG, Smith AJ, Shelton RM, Cooper PR. Recruitment of dental pulp cells by dentine and pulp extracellular matrix components. Exp Cell Res. 2012 Nov 1;318(18):2397-406. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2012.07.008. 

Smith JG, Smith AJ, Shelton RM, Cooper PR. Antibacterial activity of dentine and pulp extracellular matrix extracts. Int Endod J. 2012 Aug;45(8):749-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2591.2012.02031.x. 

Palmer LJ, Cooper PR, Ling MR, Wright HJ, Huissoon A, Chapple IL. Hypochlorous acid regulates neutrophil extracellular trap release in humans. Clin Exp Immunol. 2012 Feb;167(2):261-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2011.04518.x.