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Prof Dave Spratt
Microbial Diseases, UCL Eastman Dental Institute
256 Gray's Inn Rd
Tel: 020 34561107
Fax: 020 34561127
Prof Dave Spratt profile picture
  • Professor of Microbial Ecology and Education
  • Microbial Diseases
  • Eastman Dental Institute
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences

My Research career started with my PhD at University of the West of England where I spent 3 years investigating microbial physiology of an oral pathogen (Capnocytophaga gingivalis) and characterising purifying hydrolytic enzymes produced by this organism under various growth conditions. I moved to the University of Bristol Dental School to take up a post-doctoral position where I characterised uncultivable bacteria in pus using molecular techniques. Following this I moved to Guys Hospital (UMDS) for another Post doc position and developed methods using molecular techniques to characterise novel oral asaccharolytic Eubacterium species. In 1997 moved to a post-doctoral position at the Eastman Dental Institute to work on endodontic microbiology and in 1998 was appointed to a lecturer position. I spent several years using novel molecular biology techniques to detect and quantify and then used these techniques to study microbial communities and disease inception and progression. I continued this research (funding from EU, MRC, BBSRC, Wellcome and Industry) and was promoted to Senior Lecturer and then Reader. In tandem with this research I also maintained roles as Faculty Graduate Tutor and Vice Head of the Doctoral School. I was then made Co-Director of the new Applied Medical Science undergraduate programme which I (with Prof Kevin Moore) wrote, developed and ran. In 2016 I was promoted to Professor of Microbial Ecology and Education and Director of Education for the Eastman Dental Institute.

Research Groups
Research Themes
Research Summary

At present my research activities revolve around a number of aspects of microbial ecology. I am primarily interested in understanding population shifts in our commensal microbiota which are associated with the inception and progression of polymicrobial diseases. A number of molecular techniques including metagenomics are now available which allow the population profile of a given microbial population to be ascertained in an unbiased and cultured independent manner. These techniques have revolutionised our understanding of the human microbiome and it is thought that perhaps 50,000 different species make up the human microbiome. I am part of teams investigating the human microbiome in health and disease associated with the oral cavity, lungs, liver, kidneys and indeed some studies with primate gut microbiota.

Teaching Summary

My ethos has always been to teach what is required for present day problems rather than what has always been taught. This has meant thinking carefully about my teaching on the various programmes that I contribute to. This began with teaching on MSc programmes to dentists (in 1998 at The Eastman Dental Institute) where the specialty had a significant microbiological basis e.g. Endondontics (root canal infections) and Periodontology (gum disease). I wrote and delivered a series of lectures based on understanding microbiology concepts – not just endodontic or periodontal microbiology. Understanding the general concepts and how these can be fitted to oral disease both engages the students fully and allows them question their understanding and the literature surrounding the field. This lead to engaging with the MSc students (endodontics student) about clinical microbiological sample taking and sample processing. What happens to a clinical sample once they sent it to a laboratory? Most never knew! I designed and ran (still run) a series of practical’s and lectures about this process.

In 2013 I was asked by the Dean (Professor Lomas) to be the co-Director of a new undergraduate degree programme within the Faculty of Medical Sciences. With this concept of “teaching what is needed” in mind both Kevin More and myself planned, developed and wrote a new BSc/MSci in the Faculty of Medical Sciences. The Applied Medical Sciences (AMS) programme successfully launched in 2014. As a Director I run the programme but have also written and run a 3rd Year module (The Human Microbiome in Health and Disease).

More recently I have been significantly involved in a series of spin out BSc programmes based on the Applied Medical Sciences programme. I have worked with Programme Leads to develop Nutrition and Applied Medical Sciences (2017), Medical Sciences & Engineering (2017), Cancer Biomedicine(2018), Infection & Immunity (2019), Medical Innovation & Enterprise (2019) and Sports & Exercise Medical Sciences (2019).

I have also been the Director of Education for the Eastman Dental Institute since 2016. In this role I  oversee 22 MSc programmes and am supporting the development of a further 4: MSc Dental Hygiene (Distance), MSc Periodontology (Distance), MSc restorative Dental Practice (Flexible) and MSc Sports Dentistry (Distance).
Academic Background
1994   Doctor of Philosophy University of West England
1990   Bachelor of Science (Honours) Bristol Polytechnic
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