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David Thomas  BDS, FDRSCSEd, FDSRCSEng (ad eundem), PhD

Professor David Thomas

BDS, FDRSCSEd, FDSRCSEng (ad eundem), PhD

Professor/Hon Consultant in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Programme Director Implant Dentistry, Director Wales Integrated Academic Training programme in Dentistry, School of Dentistry, URI Innovation Lead,

School of Dentistry


Research Theme

Tissue Engineering & Reparative Dentistry

Research Groups

Microbial Effects on Tissue Function, and Tissue Repair and Remodelling

Repair and Regeneration in the Oral Mucosa

Our group$acirc;  s research is focussed in defining the molecular and cellular control mechanisms involved in impaired human wound healing. From defining the genotypic and phenotypic changes in human fibroblasts associated with disease, we have highlighted the role of  bacteria in modulating these processes. The group was instrumental in establishing CITER.   Having obtained over  £10M in external funding since our establishment of the Programme in 1993, we have worked to translate our understanding of the processes of impaired healing and particularly the role of bacterial pathogens in these processes.   The group has welcomed inter-disciplinary research and the PhD and MD programme has seen general surgeons, plastic surgeons, dermatologists, physicians and dentists as postgraduate students.

This work led to a re-evaluation of how we diagnose and manage bacteria in chronic, non-healing wounds. This work is being translated to clinical practice via the development of new classes of agents (OligoG and polymer-drug conjugates) which offer the opportunity for new approaches to the management of   human disease. We have developed and patented the use of the first oligosaccahride nanomedicines to treat multi-drug resistant gram-negative & biofilm-related infection in man (GB 0909556.3 GB 0909529.0 PCT/GB2010/001098 PCT/GB2010/001096 PCT/GB2010/001097); these agents have successfully completed Phase 1 clinical studies in humans.

Research interests

  • Cellular and Molecular Control of human wound healing
  • The role of bacteria in impaired wound healing
  • The development of novel nanomedicines for application in anti-infective and wound healing applications

Selected Projects

US Department of Defence - $1.6M The development of new therapies to treat gram-negative MDR organisms in injured combat personnel

Wellcome Trust - UK  £83,717 The goal of this project is to develop polymer therapeutic growth factor / polymer conjugates to direct cell migration and differentiation in human wound healing.

NHS / WAG  - UK £1.4M Establishment of an integrated academic clinical training programme. The major goals of this project are the production of a cohort of clinicians with PhDs and clinical specialist training.  

Algipharma   - UK £266,000 Investigation of the in vitro antimicrobial acivity, and ability to overcome multi-drug resistance, of alginate oligosaccaharide nanomedicines.

UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership -  UK £92,000 Development of in vitro models for testing of novel antimicrobial compounds in wound healing

UK Medical Research Council    -     £187,000 Development of reporter cell assays employing disease-specific fibroblast populations

UK Medical Research Council - UK £27,000 Bioresponsive polymer-peptide conjugates as novel antibacterial agents
This project has developed novel class of antimicrobial polymer-peptide conjugates for the treatment of human infections

































Clinically, in our postgraduate training Programme in Implantology, 15 years ago I established, with my colleague Rob Adams, the Implantology educational Programme at Cardiff. Starting with  "short" (3-day) CPD courses, we developed structured training courses (in bone- and soft-tissue grafting) and then a full-time  Masters Programme in 2008.    In 2012, we launched a part-time Diploma/Masters programme in Implantology to allow practitioners to undertake these qualifications and to date we have trained >100 individuals. The group has now grown with 3 Lecturers  (Rob, Adrian Binney and Nick Claydon) and in 2014 will welcome 10 students to the Programme.   In 2014 the UK's first postgraduate programme in the management of peri-implantitis. My main clinical interest is in implantology and bone- and soft-tissue grafting to replace missing tissues as part of implant therapy.  


Since returning to Cardiff following a Wellcome Clinical Research Fellowship at Bristol, I started my research group as a full-time Registrar/Lecturer in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery it numbers over 10 individuals and have been fortunate to attract over £15M in funding. Working on a variety of projects in wound healing and nanomedicines, clinical utility is key to our group's activities; we have obtained numerous international and national patents in the UK, EU, US and Australia (including a family of patents on the OligoG alginates). We have, with our industrial collaborators Algipharma AS and the support of funding agencies (Norwegian Research Council, MRC, Wellcome, EU) polymer therapies at all stages of development, from in-vitro screening to Phase 2b multi-centre trials.  This work has moved forward latterly in collaboration with researchers in Trondheim and Swansea University with the support of US Dept of Defence, the US Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and a €3M EU Eurostars Programme ( to our collaborators.

Honours and awards

King James IV Professor RCS (2013-2014)

Professional memberships


Academic positions

2013-2014  King James IV Professor, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
2013-  STC Royal College Representative, NHS Education for Scotland
2012-2013   Scientific Consultant, US Department of Defence
2012  Invited expert, European Commission Brussels; Nanomedicine for Biohorizons 2020
2008-2012  Integrated Academic Training Programme Director, Dentistry (Wales)
2008-2012   Elected President, Academic Association British Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons
2007-2010     Elected Secretary, European Tissue Repair Society
2010  Elected European Science Foundation Nanomedicine Conference Organising Committee
2006-2010  Vice Dean Research (School of Dentistry)
2004- 2010   Clinical Executive Manager Cardiff Institute of Tissue Engineering & Repair
2002-Present Professor /Honorary Consultant in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery (Cardiff University)
1992 - 1996   Lecturer / Honorary Senior Registrar in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery (Cardiff)
1989 - 1992   Wellcome Clinical Research Fellow (Bristol)