Dr Josefine Hirschfeld Dr. med. dent

Dr Josefine Hirschfeld

School of Dentistry
Academic Clinical Lecturer in Restorative Dentistry

Contact details

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

Josefine Hirschfeld is currently an Academic Clinical Lecturer in Restorative Dentistry. She started her specialty training in Restorative Dentistry at the Birmingham Dental Hospital in April 2016 and has a special interest in periodontology, a discipline concerned with diseases of the gums.

Apart from her clinical work, she undertakes research in the fields of oral immunology and oral microbiology, focussing on the causes and possible new treatments of periodontitis.

 She also takes part in teaching BDS students in clinical Restorative Dentistry.


  • Doctor medicinae dentariae, University of Würzburg, Germany
  • Dentistry, University of Würzburg, Germany


In 2009, Josefine graduated from the University of Würzburg (Germany). She afterwards started working in a state-of-the-art dental practice situated in Bavaria (Germany) as a general dentist.

After being offered a teaching position in the Department of Periodontology at the University of Würzburg, she returned to academia and also completed her doctorate.

 In 2012 and 2013, she joined the Oral Immunology Research Department of The Forsyth Institute in Boston (USA), a leading dental research institution, to undertake postdoctoral research in the field of oral mucosal immunology (antimicrobial peptides, inflammatory mediators and neutrophil granulocytes in the context of periodontitis).

She subsequently returned to Germany to work in the Department of Periodontology at the University Hospital of Bonn as a clinician, undergraduate teacher and researcher.

In April 2016, she started her position as an Academic Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Restorative Dentistry at the Birmingham Dental Hospital, and pursues her research interests within the Periodontal Research Group led by Prof. Iain Chapple.


  • Clinical teaching of BDS students in Restorative Dentistry
  • Tutoring of 1st – 5th year BDS students


Gum disease (periodontitis) is an inflammation of the tooth supporting tissues that is driven by oral bacteria and affects more than 60% of adults in the UK. To date, the specific factors that lead to periodontitis and determine their severity are not fully understood. It is known, however, that our immune system plays an important role in the development of periodontitis, during which the gum and bone tissues of a tooth are irreversibly destroyed, resulting in tooth loss. Moreover, the persistent inflammation of the gums affects overall health and can promote diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases elsewhere in the body.

Neutrophil granulocytes constitute the majority of immune cells and are the first responders to invading microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses) within the gums. These can effectively be eliminated or inactivated by various defence mechanisms of neutrophils. The Periodontal Research Group within the Birmingham Dental Hospital was able to show that neutrophils of patients with periodontitis show abnormal functions and behaviour, which can contribute to the self-destruction of tooth-surrounding tissues.

Oral microorganisms, which initiate this inflammatory response, live within multifarious communities of microbes, embedded in a self-produced matrix attached to the tooth surfaces. These three-dimensional microarchitectural structures are called biofilms, which allow microbes to live and reproduce in a protected environment. Therefore, they present a considerable challenge to the immune system and are very difficult to eliminate by neutrophils and other cells.

Josefine investigates the functions of neutrophils in periodontal health and disease. She is also interested in understanding biofilm formation, bacterial interactions, and host–biofilm communication, i.e. communication between biofilm-associated bacteria and neutrophils. Shedding light on the immunological causes of gum disease and the contribution of bacteria can help to develop new therapeutic approaches and preventive measures in the future.


Korkmaz B, Caughey GH, Chapple I, Gauthier F, Hirschfeld J, Jenne DE, Kettritz R, Lalmanach G, Lamort AS, Lauritzen C, Łȩgowska M, Lesner A, Marchand-Adam S, McKaig SJ, Moss C, Pedersen J, Roberts H, Schreiber A, Seren S, Thakker NS. Therapeutic targeting of cathepsin C: from pathophysiology to treatment. Pharmacol Ther. 2018; S0163-7258(18)30091-3.

White PC, Hirschfeld J, Milward MR, Cooper PR, Wright HJ, Matthews JB, Chapple ILC. Cigarette smoke modifies neutrophil chemotaxis, NET formation and inflammatory response-related gene expression. J Periodontal Res. 2018;53(4):525-535.

Hirschfeld J, White PC, Milward MR, Cooper PR, Chapple ILC. Modulation of Neutrophil Extracellular Trap and Reactive Oxygen Species Release by Periodontal Bacteria. Infect Immun. 2017 Nov 17; 85(12): e00297-17.

Hirschfeld J, Akinoglu E, Haddouti El-M, Bekeredjian-Ding I, Jepsen S, Wirtz D, Limmer A, Giersig M. Long-Term Release of Antibiotics by Carbon Nanotube-Coated Titanium Alloy Surfaces Diminish Biofilm Formation by Staphylococcus Epidermidis. Nanomedicine:NMB. 2017; 13(4):1587-1593.

Hirschfeld J, Roberts HM, Chapple IL, Parčina M, Jepsen S, Johansson A, Claesson R. Effects of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans leukotoxin on neutrophil migration and extracellular trap formation. J Oral Microbiol.
2016; 8:33070.

Kanzaki H, Makihira S, Suzuki M, Ishii T, Movila A, Hirschfeld J, Mawardi H, Lin X, Han X, Taubman MA, Kawai T. Soluble RANKL cleaved from activated lymphocytes by TNF-α converting enzyme (TACE) contributes to osteoclastogenesis in periodontitis. J Immunol. 2016; 97(10):3871-3883.

Waller T, Kesper L, Hirschfeld J, Dommisch H, Kölpin J, Oldenburg J, Uebele J, Hoerauf A, Deschner J, Jepsen S, Bekeredjian-Ding I. Porphyromonas gingivalis outer membrane vesicles induce selective TNF tolerance in a TLR4- and mTOR-dependent manner. Infect Immun. 2016; 84(4):1194-204.

Matsuda S, Movila A, Suzuki M, Kajiya M, Wisitrasameewong W, Kayal R, Hirschfeld J, Al-Dharrab A, Savitri IJ, Mira A, Kurihara H, Taubman MA, Kawai T. A novel method of sampling gingival crevicular fluid from a mouse model of periodontitis. J Immunol Methods. 2016; 438:21-25.

Hirschfeld J, Dommisch H, Skora P, Horvath G, Latz E, Hoerauf A, Waller T, Kawai T, Jepsen S, Deschner J, Bekeredjian-Ding I. Neutrophil extracellular trap formation in supragingival biofilms. Int J Med Microbiol. 2015; 305(4-5):453-63.

Hirschfeld J. Dynamic interactions of neutrophils and biofilms. J Oral Microbiol. 2014; 17(6):26102.

View all publications in research portal