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New Dental Dean hopes to extend School’s influence

Monday, 23 March 2015 8:17pm

paul brunton image
The new Dean of the Otago Dental School, Professor Paul Brunton.

While new, expanded facilities for the Faculty of Dentistry sit high on his wish-list, new Dean, Professor Paul Brunton, is also keen to see it become a centre for oral health in New Zealand.

"I want us to have much more of an external face and have more influence within New Zealand and beyond,” Professor Brunton says. “We have many experts in this building who know a great deal about oral health for this country. So you'd expect Government to be seeking their advice and for us to have more of an influence on oral health and general health policies."

"We have many experts in this building who know a great deal about oral health for this country. So you'd expect Government to be seeking their advice..."

A specialist in restorative dentistry, Professor Brunton came to Otago in January this year from the University of Leeds' School of Dentistry where he was Director of Student Education.

Alongside teaching, research has remained a key component of his work. He would like Otago to become more involved in translational research and can also see scope for collaboration with other departments.

"My own research at the moment is moving into the direction of oral health and general health and the interface between the two. So I want to work with colleagues in nutrition and general medicine - those that are dealing with diabetes and obesity particularly - and looking at the links between those and oral health."

The prospect of a new Dental School building is also exciting: "I believe environment is really important. If you're going to get people to flourish and really be world class they need a world class environment so a new school is high on my list and hopefully the University will be giving that final approval in the near future."

Professor Brunton has found settling into Dunedin easy. His one regret is having to give away his season tickets to Old Trafford, particularly when Man U is looking good.