Five quick questions with King’s College Clinical Lecturer in Prosthodontics Dr Saoirse O’Toole.

toothwear_2teeth

Tracking toothwear in a patient. Blue represents tooth structure loss over a six month period. Image from Saoirse O’Toole.

In this new Five Quick Questions series, we profile KCL researchers. If you are a KCL researcher and would like to have your research featured, contact us at currently@kcl.ac.uk.

Five quick questions with King’s College Clinical Lecturer in Prosthodontics Dr Saoirse O’Toole.

Saoirse is a Clinical Lecturer in Prosthodontics in the Department of Tissue Engineering and Biophotonics. For more information about Saoirse’s research, or the Department of Tissue Engineering and Biophotonics, visit their websites:

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/dentistry/research/divisions/bio3/index.aspx

https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/saoirse.otoole.html

If you could tell the public one thing about your research, what would it be?

That dentists can tell a lot from looking inside your mouth! The presence of erosive tooth wear can indicate anything from drinking too many acidic drinks to silent gastro-oesophageal reflux disease to whether you had a tongue piercing when you were a teenager.

What is a typical day like for you?

I don’t think there is a typical day in the life of a clinical researcher which is something I love about my job. I come in sometime after 8:00am. If it is a research day, I try to divide my time equally between being in the lab and then analysing/writing. If I am treating patients that day, I try to get a first task done that morning such as setting up a scan or meeting a student before I start on clinics at 9:00am. If I am teaching, I generally give a tutorial from 9-10am and then teach until 5:00pm with a lunchbreak in between (although often there are often lunchtime meetings to attend). After that I start catching up on e-mails and research work that I need to do.

What first interested you in this field?

I first got interested in erosive tooth wear as a clinician. Severe tooth wear is very challenging to treat and yet oral health care practitioners have very limited methods to assess its activity or prevent it. I saw David Bartlett speak at a conference in Istanbul, I approached him and somehow badgered him in to taking me on as a PhD student. My PhD research involved finding out what level of dietary acid intake would cause erosive tooth wear and then assessed behavioural change interventions to reduce the level of risk. I have never looked back. Research in erosive tooth wear still fascinates me as I think it has potential to act as signal diagnostic for many diseases. There is still a lot to develop in this field and I am particularly interested in developing practice-based diagnostic and monitoring tools. We also have a great research team which keeps everything interesting.

What is one of the best moments in your career?

I don’t think I can identify a best moment in my career. Any successful moments were never the result of just my actions alone as so many people have helped me to build it, bit by bit. From our research team to the nurses, lab technicians and professional services staff. There is still so much I want to achieve so I’m hoping the best is still to come.

What is one of the worst moments in your career so far?

I also don’t think I can identify a worst moment in my career either. I am hoping that a single “worst moment” never comes. It’s never nice when you receive notice that you didn’t the grant funding for a project that you poured your heart into or got rejected from a journal you had your mind set on. From a clinical point of view, it’s difficult when you don’t get the clinical outcome you and your patient were working for the first-time round. I try to only allow myself one cup of coffee to soak it in and then start thinking about how I can do it better the next time.

 

 

Five quick questions with King’s College Postdoc Dr Mark Hintze

In this new Five Quick Questions series, we profile KCL researchers. If you are a KCL researcher and would like to have your research featured, contact us at currently@kcl.ac.uk.

wordle-streit430x431

Image created by Streit Lab

Five quick questions with King’s College Postdoc Dr Mark Hintze.

Mark is a recent postdoc from Andrea Streit’s lab in the Centre for Craniofacial and Regenerative Biology, a part of the Dental Institute. For more information about the Centre, or the Streit Lab visit their websites:

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/dentistry/research/divisions/craniofac/index.aspx

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/dentistry/research/divisions/craniofac/ResearchGroups/StreitLab/StreitLab.aspx

 If you could tell the public one thing about your research, what would it be?

That development is incredible! The idea that one single cell can develop into the animals, including you, that surround us in our natural world is a wonder I personally can never tire of. One interesting piece of information from my research would be that the lens in your eye and your inner ear all develop from the same set of cells, mixed with each other in the early embryo.

What is a typical day like for you?

Different from any previous day.  My day usually begins with coffee, then is filled with experiments or data analysis, while I also try to find time to think about which experiments to carry out next and also what all the results mean for my hypothesis. This means that every day I am usually doing or thinking about something different from the previous day and that for me is the best bit about my job.

What first interested you in this field?

I have always been interested in how things work and how they are put together. When I attended my first lecture on the Neuroscience, this was given by Claudio Stern. He told a story about neural development and the regulation of Sox2 [a gene that keeps stem cells as stem cells, and stops them developing into other tissues too early – Ed] and its role in the defining of the neural plate in early development [neural plate is a group of cells present in early development, that goes on to become the nervous system – Ed]. I was hooked! I wanted to know everything about how the embryo developed and how neurons were specified, how they found each other and how this lead to behavior. As I worked on motor neuron development for my master’s thesis [a motor neuron carries signals from your brain to your muscles telling them to move -Ed], I became more and more interested in how a cell determines its own identity and how this is influenced by the environment in which it resides. These questions drove me to find a PhD in development and cell identity and continue to do so.

What is one of the best moments in your career?

Being published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) for the work on the common state, the idea that neural, neural crest and sensory progenitor cells all share a common cell state in early development before diverging was pretty fun to work on and attaining my PhD.

What is one of the worst moments in your career so far?

A worst moment in my career is hard to define, the simple failure or disproof of hypotheses that I have developed can be disheartening but this just allows you to change the idea or modify your goal. The rejection of my first paper from the journal Developmental Cell and failing to get a Leverhulme early research career fellowship are two events that were probably the most personally disappointing at the time they happened in my career.