Institute of Dentistry - Barts and The London

Professor Robert Allaker, BSc (Hons), PhD, FHEA


Professor of Mucocutaneous Microbiology and Director of Graduate Studies

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7882 2388
Room Number: Blizard Building


Prof. Rob Allaker holds a BSc (Hons) in Applied Biological Sciences (1982) and a PhD (1986) in Skin & Oral Microbiology from the University of the West of England, Bristol. He joined the Royal Veterinary College in 1986 as a Wellcome Trust Post-Doctoral Research Fellow. He then joined Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) as a lecturer in 1992, was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2002, Reader in 2006 and took the title of Professor of Mucocutaneous Microbiology in 2011. He was secretary to the Oral Microbiology & Immunology Group, British Division of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) for 6 years. He holds a principal investigator post at QMUL and currently works with a number of companies, including GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Johnson Matthey.

He has acted as a London Technology Network Business Fellow to help facilitate the transfer of technology-enabled innovations from QMUL to Industry. In 2010, he was awarded the IADR/GSK Innovation in Oral Care Award. Prof. Allaker is an author on over 80 publications in peer reviewed journals and books, and has supervised over 40 researchers. He is a section editor for the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents. Rob teaches a wide range of microbiology topics at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels on QMUL and external courses. He was on the management committee of the Association of Basic Science Teachers in Dentistry, Society for General Microbiology Education & Training Group and British Society for Oral and Dental Research. Since 2013 he has been Director of Graduate Studies for the Institute of Dentistry.


Research Interests:

Host - microbial interactions and antimicrobial research have provided the focus for Prof. Allaker's research career since 1982 with an emphasis on the microflora of the skin and adjacent mucosal sites. At PhD and Post-Doctoral levels, studies centred on the virulence capabilities of Propionibacterium and Staphylococcus spp. At QMUL, the role of host mechanisms in the control of microbial populations has been under investigation. Firstly, those centred on the entero-salivary nitrate circulation which encourages nitrate reducing bacteria (NRB) to reside within the oral cavity. Whereby, immunity may be enhanced via the action of microbial nitrate reductases and the subsequent production of nitric oxide (NO) from nitrite under acidic conditions. This theory has been examined in relation to dental caries and periodontitis.  In oral microbiome studies based upon bacterial 16S rDNA sequencing, the stability of the tongue microflora, particularly the NRB has been shown to be associated with oral health. These studies also complement Industry funded projects to determine the role of volatile compound producing tongue bacteria in oral malodour and periodontitis. Secondly, those centred on host defence (antimicrobial) peptides (HDPs), which are expressed at oral mucosal surfaces, and are important effector molecules in linking the innate and adaptive immune responses. The association between the up regulation of HDPs and the NO cascade (NO synthase route), and the possible role of HDPs and NO as biomarkers of oral disease, is being investigated.

These studies also complement other projects on the use of nano-antimicrobials for oral applications. The use of nanoparticle-based implant coatings to prevent implant infection is being explored in collaboration with University College London and Industry. These studies to develop coatings with improved bone integration and antimicrobial characteristics complement work by the Materials Group (Professor Hill) on the use of bioactive glasses for oral applications

Other areas of research at QMUL centre on a possible relationship between mucosal bacteria and systemic disease, including investigations on the transmission routes for the gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori, and the role of oral and vaginal bacteria in pregnancy complications. Studies with Dr Cecilia Gonzales-Marin (Clinical Periodontology) aim to determine the mechanisms behind the link between periodontal dysbiosis and adverse pregnancy outcomes (APOs); and to explore the inflammation-regulatory actions of resolution mediators in the prevention of APOs.