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Tuesday 17 September 2013 8:05am

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Director of the Sir John Walsh Research Institute, Professor Jules Kieser.

Late last year the University formally recognised 14 research centres. Designation as a Research Centre signals the excellence and coherence of the research group's endeavours. Continuing our Research Centre Series, the Bulletin takes a look at the Sir John Walsh Research Institute.

The Sir John Walsh Research Institute (SJWRI), a Research Centre of the University of Otago, advances research and increases knowledge for the improvement of oral health in New Zealand, and provides a focus for dental research in this country.

The Walsh Building, Faculty of Dentistry, home of the Sir John Walsh Research Institute.

Oral health is essential for well-being. Poor oral health may also directly affect general health through the promotion of systemic disease. The direct and indirect financial and societal costs of oral disease are huge, but are to a large extent ignored in New Zealand, where there are significant challenges to the improvement of oral health. The country's ageing population is retaining natural teeth for longer, with associated increases in dental caries and periodontal disease. Demand is also rising for advanced oral care in areas such as rehabilitation of the dentition, regeneration of periodontal tissues, and in prevention of oral disease in medically compromised patients. Social and ethnic inequalities in oral health are also a serious problem.

The Institute's innovative, future-focused, interconnected research programmes cover the spectrum of oral health research, from the molecular level through biological systems to the health of populations:

  • Biomechanics and Oral Implantology (including Dental Biomaterials, Oral Implantology and Forensic Dentistry)
  • Clinical Research
  • Dental Education Research
  • Dental Epidemiology and Public Health
  • Molecular Microbiology
  • Oral Molecular and Immunopathology

The Institute is part of New Zealand's only Faculty of Dentistry and its members have well-established productive collaborations across the University and with other institutions in New Zealand and worldwide. Our mission is to develop research that underpins our teaching and clinical practice, and that translates discoveries into measurable health improvements and the identification of oral health related problems for all New Zealanders. The Institute is named for Sir John Walsh, Dean of Dentistry from 1946 to 1971.

For more information on the SJWRI, including news on events and activities as well as our downloadable Research Highlights magazine, please visit, or contact Dr James Smith, SJWRI Research Manager.

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