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DClinDent in Oral Pathology

Become a registered oral and maxillofacial pathologist

Oral pathologists in the lab

Start your application on the DClinDent regulations page

What is Oral Pathology?

An oral pathologist uses information from histological examination of tissue and, increasingly molecular techniques, to make a diagnosis and determine the cause of conditions of the oral, maxillofacial, and adjacent regions, in conjunction with clinical and radiographic features.

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DClinDent in Oral Pathology

Duration 3 years full-time
Campus You will be taught at the Dunedin campus within our Oral Pathology Centre. Founded in 1946, our laboratory is the only specialist oral pathology diagnostic centre at an Australasian dental school. We provide diagnostic services for oral and maxillofacial pathology for patients from all parts of New Zealand. To provide breadth of experience to our students, placements are arranged to national and international laboratories.

The course includes diagnostic histopathology relating to soft and hard tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region. A research project relevant to oral pathology will be undertaken.

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What skills will you develop / learn?

You will gain an in-depth understanding of the scientific literature relating to oral pathology and intensive training in diagnostic histopathology.

This will involve participation in daily laboratory activities including specimen acquisition, specimen cut-up, and routine laboratory processing.

Advanced techniques including molecular biology will be included.

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After course completion, what will you be eligible to do?

Upon successful completion of the course you will be eligible to work as a specialist Oral Pathologist in New Zealand, which will allow you to work in university, hospital, or some private pathology laboratory settings.

As a Oral Pathologist, you will be providing oral histopathology diagnostic services to general dentists, dental specialists, and general pathologists in New Zealand.

You will be working within a patient management team, that allows accurate and effective information for the benefit of patients.

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Oral Pathology Centre at the Faculty of Dentistry

As an International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) and Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) accredited histopathology laboratory we provide specialist training for Oral Pathology through the degree of Doctor of Clinical Dentistry.

The Oral Pathology Centre is a research-intense laboratory and is the home of the Oral Molecular and Immunopathology Research Group within the Sir John Walsh Research Institute. Our research projects focus on the molecular pathogenesis of oral diseases with particular focus on cancer immunology, angiogenesis, lymphangiogenesis and endoplasmic reticulum stress.

We continue to strengthen our commitment to the community through the provision of oral diagnostic services and to provide excellence in teaching for the next generation of dental professionals whilst advancing our knowledge of diseases of the oral and maxillofacial regions.

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Experiences from students

Elizabeth Tauati-Williams

Elizabeth Tauati-Williams (2020)“The clinical component allowed me to correlate relevant clinical histories and other special investigations with the histology of oral lesions and other head and neck pathologies in order to formulate a definitive diagnosis.

“This logical and collaborative diagnostic process together with the expert supervision by Oral Pathology Centre academic staff has allowed me to work confidently in diagnosing oral diseases in my current workplace in Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital in Samoa.”

Read more about Dr Tauati-Williams’ DClinDent experience


Izyyan (2020)“The doctorate program in Oral Pathology offered by Otago has been a very exciting, yet challenging journey for myself.

“The huge number of biopsy samples received in Oral Pathology Centre each year has given enough exposure for each student to familiarise themselves with the variety of diseases within the oral cavity, and as a result to master the disease pathology by the end of this course.”

Read more about Dr Izyan’s DClinDent experience

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Staff expertise

Professor Alison Rich

Professor Alison RichAlison is Professor of Oral Pathology at the University of Otago, New Zealand. She is a registered specialist in oral pathology and is Head of the Oral Pathology Centre, the University’s oral pathology diagnostic service and the Leader of the Oral Immunopathology Research Group. She is a previous Chair of the Faculty of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) and is their current Chief Examiner. Alison, Haizal, and Benedict run the Oral and Maxillofacial Quality Assurance Programme for the RCPA.

Dr Haizal Hussaini

Dr Haizal HussainiHaizal is a Senior Lecturer in Oral Pathology at the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Otago, and Deputy Associate Dean (Postgraduate). Previously he was with the Department of Oral Pathology and Oral Medicine, Faculty of Dentistry, National University of Malaysia (UKM) where he was associate professor and deputy dean of postgraduate, research and international. He has an important international collaboration with Oral Cancer Research Coordinating Centre, Malaysia; a key research institute and oral cancer tissue bank in South East Asia.  His current research interest is the concept of pre-metastatic niche and he is investigating immune tolerance in metastatic lymph nodes.

Dr Benedict Seo

Benedict Seo is Senior Lecturer in Oral Pathology at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He graduated with a BDS in 2007 and qualified as a registered specialist in oral pathology upon completion of his DClinDent in 2011. Ben’s research focuses on the molecular pathogenesis of oral cancer, with a particular emphasis on endoplasmic reticulum stress and unfolded protein response. He maintains close research collaborations with colleagues in the USA, Australia, Korea, Malaysia, and Fiji.

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Course content: Year 1

CLDN 910 Clinical Research

  • Biostatistics, research methods and epidemiology
  • Microbiology and immunology
  • Biology of the oral cavity

CLDN 920 Clinical Practice

  • Investigations and diagnostic principles
  • Medicine for the dental specialist
  • Pathology
  • Clinical practice-diagnostic oral pathology 1

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Course content: Year 2

CLD9F Thesis Research, Clinical Research and Clinical Practice 2

  • Oral medicine
  • Clinical practice-diagnostic oral pathology 2

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Course content: Year 3

CLDN9F Thesis Research, Clinical Research and Clinical Practice 3

  • Clinical practice-diagnostic oral pathology 3
  • Thesis

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How to apply

Start your application on the DClinDent regulations page