Professor Rachel Waddington

Professor Rachel Waddington

Associate Director Engagement & Enterprise, Professor of Oral Biochemistry

School of Dentistry

Building on an extensive research background in matrix biology, my research interests currently focus on the role of extracellular matrix on the regulation of mesenchymal stem cell during bone and dentine repair in health and during disease and in the establishment of bacterial infection.

Rachel Waddington is a non-clinical Professor in Oral Biochemistry and has been in academia since appointment as lecturer in the School of Dentistry in 1988. Her research interests centre on the cellular and matrix biology of bone and dentine and applying this research to improved diagnosis, management and treatment in clinical dentistry, with cross-over to orthopaedic medicine. She has 75+ papers in peer-reviewed journals over 200 conference abstract.  She has successfully supervised more than 25 PhD doctoral and masters research student projects.   During her career she has been awarded the Senior Colgate prize (1990) and the MINTIG Mineralised tissue Research travel prize, both awarded by the British Society for Dental and Oral Research (1996). In 1993 was awarded Royal Society Overseas Study award for a research sabbatical University of Toronto, Canada.  She has directed numerous research funding awards from industry, charities and MRC, Wellcome Trust and EU funding and also reviewed many grants from the same funding bodies.  She is currently the Chairperson for the MINTIG mineralised tissue research group within the BSODR, currently sits on the management committee of the BSODR and is scientific editor for the Journal for Oral Diseases.

Honours and awards

Senior Colgate prize (1990) and the MINTIG Mineralised tissue Research travel prize (1996), both awarded by the British Society for Dental and Oral Research

  • Extensive mentoring experience for early stage researchers and academics both within Cardiff University and other Welsh academic institutions
  • Undergraduate and postgraduate teaching - bone and dentine biology, tooth development and structure, periodontal connective tissues in health and disease, osseointegration, fluoride and mineralised tissues and caries development.
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2001; Member of the Leadership foundation for Higher Education since 2008. Educational experience in academic course management; course development and validation; preparation assessment criteria and assessment of both formative and summative assessments.
  • External examiner higher degrees theses; Currently external Examiner for Basic Science module 1st BDS course, Queen's University Belfast; Biochemistry, 1st BDS course University of Bristol

My research interests focus on the role of extracellular matrix proteins in directing bone and dentine repair, understanding their synthesis, extracellular interactions and subsequent fate of matrix proteins of these tissues in health and disease. These studies have been applied and translational in design to underpin research which will improve diagnosis, management and treatment in clinical dentistry. Currently studies are ongoing which aims to identify novel proteins, small leucine rich proteoglycans, in the extracellular matrix which synergistically enhance growth factor activity to drive wound repair processes associated with mineralised tissue formation.  Through detailed studies involving structural analysis and cellular assays, understanding how the synthesis and metabolism of growth factors and extracellular matrix proteins is alters cellular behaviour during conditions such as periodontal disease and type 2 diabetes will enhance knowledge of how the signalling environment is altered during a particular disease pathology.  The extracellular matrix also provides a role in microbial adherence, altering bacterial phenotype and the establishment of bacterial infections.  Research has also established novel roles for proteoglycans in facilitating biofilm formation, which is of significance in further understanding pathological mechanisms such as those associated with periodontal, endodontic diseases and as part of impaired tissue repair such as during implant placement. The research aims to provoke clinical benefit, facilitating long term research goals to fabricate defined bioactive protein composites to provide an ideal signalling environment and antimicrobials that promotes natural repair for bone engineering applications.  Research aims to be of benefit to both the dental and orthopaedic community.

Research Projects

  • Growth factor responsiveness of mesenchymal progenitor cells during bone repair associated with type 2 diabetes.
  • Elucidating the bioactive properties of dentine matrix for translation into novel bone repair and regeneration therapies.
  • Role of biglycan in regulating mesenchymal stem cell and growth factor activity.
  • Altered bone cell biology associated with type 2 diabetes Mellitus – consequences for periodontal disease.
  • Novel antimicrobial restorative materials to managbone and dentine repair.
  • Endogenous growth factor release for maxillofacial tissue engineering and repair.
  • Delivery systems of Bioactive Matrices for bone and dentine repair