New Dean of Dentistry appointed

Professor Helen Whelton has been appointed Dean of the University Dental School, and will take up her post on 1 October.


Professor Whelton has a wealth of international experience, most notably as the current President of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), a global research organisation with almost 13,000 members worldwide.

Speaking of how much she enjoys working with students, Professor Whelton said: “In my previous role as Dean of the Graduate School in the College of Medicine and Health at University College Cork, I found the students to be a real source of inspiration and energy; they were the engine that drove much of the development at the school. I really valued the close interaction with them and we developed some excellent initiatives together.”

She also wants to engage students over mobile platforms for teaching and learning and to give and receive feedback: “Mobile platforms allow unprecedented opportunities for us to engage with our students; the change in technology is so rapid that we must work with our students to stay in tune with it and avail fully of the advantages it offers. Dentistry in particular lends itself to this approach.”

With a background in epidemiology, public health and preventive dentistry, Professor Whelton’s plans include an ambitious international clinical research programme, a programme which will address unanswered questions about the links between oral health and general health. This research will draw on the skills of academics in health and science disciplines outside of dentistry and will build on Professor Whelton’s previous success in leading large national and international multidisciplinary research teams.

She said: “This research agenda has opportunities for creation of new knowledge in the area of prevention and therapeutics both for oral and general health problems, work which will ultimately benefit the health of the population.”

The University's innovation in undergraduate education and strong commitment to the further development of dental and oral research were strong factors in Professor Whelton's decision to take up the post. The University is the first institution in the UK to take full advantage of advanced simulation technology to develop students’ clinical skills. Students at Leeds benefit from the application of haptics technology, similar to that used in flight simulators and computer games to develop their clinical skills, giving them a ‘hands on’ feeling when working. In addition to the simulators, Leeds Dental Institute is the first school in the UK to award its students with a Master’s-level qualification and a BSc in Oral Science at the end of five years of study.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in Leeds to build on their investments in excellence and innovation to bring the dental school to the forefront of international dental education and research,” she said. “The University of Leeds provides an outstanding context to achieve this goal and the team at the dental school have already positioned it for future success.”

Visit the International Association for Dental Research website.

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