Dr Rachel Sammons PhD

Rachel Sammons

School of Dentistry
Senior Lecturer and Programme Lead BMedSc (Biomedical Materials Science)

Contact details

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

Rachel Sammons is the Programme Lead for the BMedSc(Biomedical Materials Science) programme. She is also First Year Tutor and Examinations Officer for this Programme.

Rachel Sammons research interests focus on surface interactions between mammalian cells and bacteria and biomaterials – especially titanium and hydroxyapatite, for bone repair and the prevention of infection.


  • Senior Lecturer in Biomaterials, 2005.
  • Lecturer in Biomaterials, School of Dentistry, 1997.
  • PhD in Microbial Genetics, University of Birmingham,  1980.
  • BSc in Biological Sciences, University of Birmingham, 1976.


Dr Sammons graduated from the University of Birmingham in 1976 with a BSc (Hons) in Biological Sciences. She gained her PhD in 1980 on the biochemistry and genetics of spore germination of Bacillus subtilis 168. She was then awarded a Royal Society European Exchange Fellowship to work at the Centre de Génétique Moléculaire, CNRS, Gif-sǔr-Yvette, France on chromosomal rearrangements in Bacillus subtilis trpE26. She returned to Birmingham in 1982 to resume work on the molecular biology of bacterial spore germination but in 1988 she moved to the Department of Anatomy, to take up a Research Fellowship as a cell biologist. In 1991 she was awarded a Senior Research Fellowship by the charity “Action Research” to work on the molecular biology of osteoblast-hydroxyapatite interactions and the influence of calcium phosphate phase variability in plasma sprayed coatings on bone cell behaviour. She moved to the School of Dentistry and was made a lecturer in biomaterials in 1997, senior lecturer in 2005 and has been Course Leader of the BMedSc(Biomedical Materials Science) degree programme since 2001.

Infections associated with implanted medical devices cause considerable problems because they can rarely be successfully treated with antibiotics and in most cases the implant has to be removed. Dr Sammons research focuses on ways to improve cellular attachment and differentiation on titanium surfaces and inhibit bacterial attachment and proliferation. This may include ion implantation or application of coatings (especially hydroxyapatite) which optimise the tissue response and reduce bacterial interactions. Sammons has published several papers on biofilms and biomineralisation, having worked for several years on the manufacture of hydroxyapatite by a species of Serratia bacteria. She maintains collaborative links with researchers and companies in Japan, initiated by a BBSRC Japan Partnering award, and in Europe via membership of a Eureka! Consortium, as well as collaborative links with Italian and Swedish researchers, working on cell-dental implant interactions and degradation of bone-substitute materials, using the scanning electron microscope as an investigative tool. She was recently awarded a grant from the Furlong Charitable Foundation to carry out a collaborative programme of research on the development of reinforced artificial ligaments.


Postgraduate supervision

Dr Sammons is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the area of:-

Modification of titanium and hydroxyapatite surfaces for optimisation of tissue interactions and prevention of bacterial attachment and proliferation.


Current Research Activity:

  • Development of antimicrobial surfaces: The aim of this research is to develop modified material surfaces that will deter bacterial attachment and biofilm formation in order to reduce the incidence of biomaterial-associated infections. Dr Sammons is involved in a number of collaborative projects involving modification of surface topography and the addition of antimicrobial coatings to reduce bacterial attachment and survival.   The work also extends to the development of antimicrobial bone cements incorporatingantibiotics and other antimicrobials.  

Previous research activity

  • Bacterial biomineralisation by a species of Serratia; use of this model system to investigate the efficacy of ultrasonic dental scalers to remove biofilm and biomineral deposits.
  • Investigation of biofilm formation and inflammatory responses to bone anchored hearing aids (BAHA).
  • Development of a titanium spring-reinforced artificial ligament.
  • Osteoblast behaviour on textured titanium dental implant and hydroxyapatite surfaces.  

Other activities

  • College Programme Approval and Review Committee (CPARC) member


Imaging and Analysis of Individual Cavitation Microbubbles around Dental Ultrasonic. / Vyas, Nina; Sammons, Rachel; Walmsley, Anthony; Wang, Qian; Dehghani, Hamid; Leppinen, David. In: Ultrasonics, Vol. 81, 11.2017, p. 66–72.

Development and characterisation of novel anti-bacterial S-phase based coatings. / Formosa, Dennis; Li, Xiaoying; Dong, Hanshan; Sammons, Rachel. In: Thin Solid Films, 27.10.2017.

Backscattered Electron Imaging and Electron Backscattered Diffraction in the Study of Bacterial Attachment to Titanium Alloy Structure. / Wang, Anqi; Jones, Ian; Mei, Junfa; Tse, Yau Yau; Landini, Gabriel; Li, Yue; Ke, Linnan; Huang, Yuanli; Liu, Li; Wang, Chunren; Sammons, Rachel.In: Journal of Microscopy, 08.09.2017.

Improving tribological and anti-bacterial properties of titanium external fixation pins through surface ceramic conversion. / Dong, Huan; Mukinay, Tatiana; Li, Maojun; Hood, Richard; Soo, Sein Leung; Cockshott, Simon; Sammons, Rachel; Li, Xiaoying. In: Journal of materials science. Materials in medicine, Vol. 28, No. 5, 5, 01.01.2017.

Penetration of Sub-micron Particles into Dentinal Tubules using Ultrasonic Cavitation. / Vyas, Nina; Sammons, Rachel; Pikramenou, Zoe; Palin, William; Dehghani, Hamid; Walmsley, Anthony. In: Journal of Dentistry, Vol. 56, 01.2017, p. 112-120.

Development of tissue engineered ligaments with titanium spring reinforcement. / Wang, Anqi; Williams, Richard; Davis, Edward; Sammons, Rachel; Grover, Liam. In: Rsc Advances, 05.10.2016.

A quantitative method to measure biofilm removal efficiency from complex biomaterial surfaces using SEM and image analysis. / Vyas, Nina; Sammons, Rachel; Addison, Owen; Dehghani, Hamid; Walmsley, Anthony. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 6, 32694, 07.09.2016.

High speed imaging of cavitation around dental ultrasonic scaling tips. / Vyas, Nina; Pecheva, Emilia; Dehghani, Hamid; Sammons, Rachel; Wang, Qian; Leppinen, David; Walmsley, Anthony. In: PLoS ONE, Vol. 11, No. 3, e0149804, 02.03.2016.

The performance characteristics of a piezoelectric ultrasonic dental scaler. / Pecheva, Emilia; Sammons, Rachel; Walmsley, Anthony. In: Medical Engineering & Physics, Vol. 38, No. 2, 02.2016, p. 199–203.

Adherence of oral streptococci to nanostructured titanium surfaces. / Narendrakumar, Krunal; Kulkarni, Mukta; Addison, Owen; Mazare, Anca; Junkar, Ita; Schmuki, Patrik; Sammons, Rachel; Iglič, Aleš. In: Dental Materials, Vol. 31, No. 12, 12.2015, p. 1460-1468.

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