Professor Paul Cooper BSc (Hons) PhD

Professor Paul Cooper

School of Dentistry
Professor of Oral Biology and Director of Research

Contact details

The School of Dentistry
5 Mill Pool Way
B5 7EG
United Kingdom

Within the School of Dentistry Paul is Professor of Oral Biology, Lead for the Oral Biology teaching module, Director of Research and Deputy Head of School.  He is also Deputy Institute Research Director for Clinical Sciences.

He has published over 120 research papers in scientific journals and authored several book chapters in the field of pulp biology and regenerative endodontics. He has delivered more than 30 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. He has been the President of the European Society of Dental and Craniofacial Stem Cells, he is currently the chair of the Mineralised Tissue Research Group (MINTIG) of BSODR and is a councillor on the BSODR Management Committee. 



  • 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 Oral and Dental Research (BSODR) -  Management Committee member (2017 - 2020)
  • Association of Basic Science Teachers in Dentistry (ABSTD) - Councillor (2008-2012)
  • Mineralized Tissue Group of BSDR (MINTIG) - Councillor (2004-2009) -  Chair (2017 to current)
  • Oral Microbiology Group (OMIG) of BSODR - committee member (2007-2009)


You can view my google scholar profile here 

Modulation of neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) release by periodontal bacteria. Hirschfeld J, White PC, Milward MR, Cooper PR, Chapple ILC. Infect Immun. 2017 Sep 25. pii: IAI.00297-17. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00297-17. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28947649

Periodontal pathogens promote epithelial-mesenchymal transition in oral squamous carcinoma cells in vitro. Abdulkareem AA, Shelton RM, Landini G, Cooper PR, Milward MR. Cell Adh Migr. 2017 Sep 5:1-11. doi: 10.1080/19336918.2017.1322253. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28873015

Inflammation and Regeneration in the Dentin-pulp Complex: Net Gain or Net Loss? Cooper PR, Chicca IJ, Holder MJ, Milward MR. J Endod. 2017 Sep;43(9S):S87-S94. doi: 10.1016/j.joen.2017.06.011. PMID: 28844308

Regenerative Endodontics: Burning Questions. Smith AJ, Cooper PR. J Endod. 2017 Sep;43(9S):S1-S6. doi: 10.1016/j.joen.2017.06.002. Epub 2017 Aug 1. PMID: 28778510

Cleaning lateral morphological features of the root canal: the role of streaming and cavitation. Robinson JP, Macedo RG, Verhaagen B, Versluis M, Cooper PR, van der Sluis LWM, Walmsley AD. Int Endod J. 2017 Jun 27. doi: 10.1111/iej.12804. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28654211

Role of Piezo Channels in Ultrasound-stimulated Dental Stem Cells. Gao Q, Cooper PR, Walmsley AD, Scheven BA. J Endod. 2017 Jul;43(7):1130-1136. doi: 10.1016/j.joen.2017.02.022. Epub 2017 May 17. PMID: 28527849

Porphyromonas gingivalis gingipains cause defective macrophage migration towards apoptotic cells and inhibit phagocytosis of primary apoptotic neutrophils. Castro SA, Collighan R, Lambert PA, Dias IH, Chauhan P, Bland CE, Milic I, Milward MR, Cooper PR, Devitt A. Cell Death Dis. 2017 Mar 2;8(3):e2644. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2016.481. PMID: 28252646

Development and application of LED arrays for use in phototherapy research. Hadis MA, Cooper PR, Milward MR, Gorecki PC, Tarte E, Churm J, Palin WM. J Biophotonics. 2017 Feb 6. doi: 10.1002/jbio.201600273. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 28164460

IFN-γ regulates human dental pulp stem cells behavior via NF-κB and MAPK signaling. He X, Jiang W, Luo Z, Qu T, Wang Z, Liu N, Zhang Y, Cooper PR, He W. Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 18;7:40681. doi: 10.1038/srep40681. PMID: 28098169

An in vitro screening assay for dental stain cleaning. Wang C, Lucas R, Smith AJ, Cooper PR. BMC Oral Health. 2017 Jan 9;17(1):37. doi: 10.1186/s12903-016-0328-3. PMID: 28068974


Oral Biology