Professor Gail V A Douglas

Professor Gail V A Douglas


Between 1987-1993 I studied Dental Surgery at the University of Dundee, graduating with honours in first place within my class. During this time I also completed an intercalated BMSc, graduating with a first class honours degree in Medical Psychology. The BMSc was my first experience of undertaking research and earned me the Colgate undergraduate prize which sent me to my first research conference in Chicago in 1993 and I was hooked.

Following this I was awarded a Joint MRC/Health Region Special Training Fellowship in Health Services Research in 1995. My Fellowship was undertaken at the Dental Health Services Research Unit, University of Dundee where I completed my MPH (1997) and PhD (2001) degrees. My PhD was a mixed methods study on secondary caries misdiagnosis and health economic anyalses of patients’ and dentists’ caries diagnostic preferences using discrete choice experiments.

I undertook specialty training in dental public health between 2000-04 in Fife and Tayside NHS boards, during this time I was honorary senior lecturer in public health medicine and taught medical students. It was a privilege to be involved in the very early stages of important oral health initiatives such as CHILDSMILE and other programmes aimed at vulnerable groups (prisons, homeless and elderly) which have gone on to impact significantly in Scotland on oral health improvement and to be mirrored in other parts of the world. 

Following this, after locum consultant in dental public health roles in Lothian and Borders NHS boards, in 2004 I was appointed as the director of the Caries Control Research Programme and returned to work in the Dental Health Services Research Unit in Dundee where I remained for 5 years before taking up my current post as professor of dental public health at the University of Leeds in September 2009.

I am a full-time member of staff at the University of Leeds School of Dentistry where one day per week I am seconded to work with the English national dental public health team on the dental intelligence and epidemiology programme. External to the university my significant roles include:

  • Past President of the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry (BASCD)
  • Past Chair of the UK Specialty Advisory Committee for Dental Public Health
  • Intercollegiate Specialty Fellowship Examination board for Dental Public Health
  • UK Dental Epidemiology Scientific Lead and Chair of the BASCD Dental Epidemiology Group
  • European Organisation for Caries Research (ORCA) Advisory Board


  • Head of Department of Dental Public Health
  • Research Lead for Dental Public Health and Health Services Research
  • Programme Lead for MSc in Dental Public Health

Research interests

My broad areas of research interests are caries research (particularly detection, assessment and prevention), health services research (particularly primary dental care research and non-NHS settings) and epidemiology. 

  • 2021-23 Health Service and Delivery Research (HSDR) award (£296,936). Caring Optimally: promoting effective Mouth MInuTes in care homes (COMMIT Study). I am co-chief investigator with Professor Karen Spilsbury on this study which focuses on oral health improvement in the care home setting. 
  • 2015-19 EU Horizon 2020 award. Added value for oral care (ADVOCATE) study (6 million Euro across all partners, £1.7m in Leeds). I was workpackage leader on a European inventory of oral health systems and attitudes of patients and dentists towards preventive care.
  • 2010-18 NIHR HTA Project 07/44/03. I was joint chief investigator on the £2.9 million NIHR-funded FiCTION study, which was a randomised controlled trial of child caries management strategies in general dental practice focusing on high caries risk children.
  • 2011-17 NIHR HTA Project 06/35/05. INTERVAL Full Study - Investigation of NICE Technologies for Enabling Risk-Variable-Adjusted-Length Dental Recalls Trial. A randomised controlled trial conducted within primary dental care to assess the effects of different recall intervals £2.6m. I was co-applicant on this study, the project was led by Professor N Pitts and Professor J Clarkson, University of Dundee.
  • 2012-15 NIHR Service Delivery and Organisation Programme Project 09/1004/04. INCENTIVE Study - I was a coapplicant on this study. A non-randomised trial evaluating incentives to encourage general dental practitioners in providing appropriate preventive and operative care according to patients' risk factors £500k. Project led by Professor Clare Hulme, University of Leeds.

I am one of the founding members of the International Caries Detection and Assessment System (ICDAS) collaboration, a large international group working in the area of caries detection and assessment. I have been co-ordinator to this group since 2002. Further collaborations with partners in common with ICDAS include the International Caries Classification and Management System (ICCMS) group which have taken the ICDAS agenda further to provide evidence based guidance on modern, minimally invasive caries managment; and Caries Care International which focuses on caries management guidance for clinical practitioners.

Recent research project supervision at doctoral level includes the following topic areas:

  • impact of COVID-19 on the dental profession (lead supervisor)
  • exploration of GDP referral behaviours to oral surgery services (co-supervisor)
  • caries adjacent to restorations: accuracy of the ICDAS criteria (lead supervisor)
  • antimicrobial prescribing behaviours in general dental practice (lead supervisor)
  • impact of ICDAS training on treatment planning decisions of general dental practitioners (lead supervisor)
  • dental problems in accident and emergency settings (lead supervisor)
  • factors influencing preventive oral care in general dental practice, a discrete choice experiment (lead supervisor)


  • FDS(DPH)RCS(Edinburgh)
  • PhD Secondary Caries Misdiagnosis
  • MPH
  • BDS (with honours)
  • BMSc Medical Psychology

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry
  • European Organisation for Caries Research (ORCA) Advisory Board
  • International Association for Dental Research
  • European Association for Dental Public Health

Student education

My significant educational roles at the university of Leeds have included the following:

  • module lead for the MChD Final Year Project offering students experience in research design, ethical approvals, conduct and analysis as well as research critique.
  • module lead for MSc module Principles of Dental Public Health
  • supervision of research projects for students on taught courses at undergraduate and masters degree levels
  • programme lead for the MSc in dental public health which is taught in collaboration with the Nuffield Institute of Health Sciences. This collaboration with the Institute for Health Sciences improves efficiencies in teaching and offers an improved student experience though larger and multi-professional grouping of students. Taught elements of the national curriculum in dental public health for specialty training have been integrated into this course in order to ensure that the programme is suitable for specialty trainees; a Master’s degree in DPH is an essential element of specialty training in the UK.

Other educational roles include being an academic trainer for specialty trainees in dental public health, and the Health Education England appointed role as one of the Training Programme Directors in Yorkshire and the Humber. I have also been involved in two revisions of the national dental specialty training curriculum for dental public health, the first being in my previous role as chair of the UK Specialty Advisory Committee for dental public health.

Research groups and institutes

  • Translational and clinical research

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>