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Prof Bernard Moxham  -  BDS PhD

The role of mesenchymes in craniofacial development.  Abnormal development of the mesenchymes in palatal shelves is responsible for the formation of palatal clefts, one of the most common human congenital abnormalities. Past research in our laboratory has highlighted the importance of palatal shelf ECM in the generation of turgor pressure to facilitate palatal shelf elevation. Present work is characterising the biochemical and ultrastructural features of this mesenchyme and the changes that take place in experimentally-induced clefts.  Research is also being undertaken on the development of the upper lip and the mechanisms responsible for cleft lip formation.  Most recently, and in collaboration with colleagues at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), we have been studying the effects of teratogens on craniofacial and brain development.  We have shown that folic acid can “rescue” even major craniofacial abnormalities produced by teratogens. We are also investigating those parental socio-biological features that “predispose” to the development of craniofacial congenital abnormalities. The work on craniofacial development was awarded the Enrique Martinez Moreno prize. I am preparing a monograph with international colleagues concerned with normal and abnormal craniofacial development and therapies.

The relationships between structure, function, composition and pathology of periodontal connective tissues.  The periodontal ligament attaches the tooth to the jaw and is responsible for resisting masticatory loads and for providing the forces of eruption. Previous research has characterised the structural, ultrastructural, biochemical, and biomechanical properties of the periodontal ligament. My research has also resolved problems regarding the mechanisms responsible for tooth eruption and for the way in which the periodontal ligament resists masticatory loads (the tooth support mechanism). Our research has also shown that, unusually, the periodontal ligament maintains foetal/mesenchymal characteristics; this finding has led to the isolation of embryonic stem cells in and around the tooth. Clinically, the periodontal ligament is affected by inflammatory periodontal disease and provides the initial reactions to the imposition of orthodontic loads. Present research is concerned with the biochemistry of the tissue in health and disease and, in particular, we are studying the effects of ageing.

Pedagogic research in the biomedical sciences.  I founded a Trans-European pedagogic research group for the anatomical sciences.  Presently, we are comparing the legal procedures operating for body bequests across the EU, investigating the attitudes of medical and dental students to the clinical relevance of the biomedical sciences, assessing the meaning of research-led teaching in higher education, determining the mathematical and literary skills possessed by science, medical and dental students when first they enter university, and investigating the relationships between course aims/learning outcomes and teaching methods employed for topographical anatomy.  Further work is investigating the knowledge possessed by science, medical and dental students about the philosophy of science and of ethical frameworks, the understanding of clinical medicine possessed by newly recruited medical students, and how personality differences relate to attitudes and learning styles for students in the health professions and in biosciences.  I have edited an educational issue of the European Journal of Anatomy following educational symposia held at the joint meeting of the British and Spanish Anatomical Societies at Madrid (August 2006) and have been invited by the Anatomical Society to organise a major conference on biomedical education at Cardiff in December 2011. I am planning the writing of a monograph on biomedical education.

In 2005, I was awarded the “Enrique Martinez Moreno Prize” by the Sociedad Anatomica Espanola for my research into craniofacial development. In 2009, I was given Honorary membership of the Turkish Society of Anatomy and Clinical Anatomy for “worldwide contributions to teaching anatomy”.