I qualified in Dentistry from Bristol University, and then moved between clinical roles (including Clinical Director of Salaried Services in South Glamorgan) and academia (Kings College London), before joining the University of Liverpool where I am now Professor and Honorary Consultant in Dental Public Health.
My research is in oral health inequalities and health systems, especially in relation to real world settings of primary dental care and vulnerable communities, both in the UK and globally. My NIHR grants have included studies into the factors which influence responses to dental contracts (NIHR HSDR project 09/1801/1055) and delivery of preventive care in dental practice (NIHR HSDR project 13/33/45 – the PREFER trial and ethnography on presenting information on risk to patients).
In 2020 I was awarded the International Association for Dental Research 2020 Distinguished Scientist Award for Behavioural, Epidemiologic and Health Services Research. This IADR award is one of the top distinctions in dentistry and is made to recognise “outstanding achievement and significant contribution to the field of oral health research.”
My work supports the realisation of Universal Health Coverage – so that all individuals and communities can receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. For dental services this can be a real challenge. I am current leading a NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Research which is developing and testing an intervention to reduce inequalities in the use of routine dental services in England. For more information on this see the study website at https://www.returnproject.co.uk/
I have experience with inter-disciplinary research and university leadership. I led a successful Institute Athena SWAN silver award in 2015; served as Head of Department of Health Services Research 2017-2020 (with a range of disciplines and settings such as general medical practice, mental health, vision services, palliative care, bioethics etc.); and as interim Dean of the Institute of Population Health Sciences 2018-2020.
I also work as Deputy Chief Dental Officer for England and am currently NIHR Research Design Services Strategic Lead for Public Health in the North West.
My professional roles have included 2017-2018 President of the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry (BASCD) which is the UK’s professional association for the science, philosophy and practice of promoting the oral health of populations and groups in society; and Oral Health topic expert on NICE Public Health Advisory Committees 2014-2017.
In 2019 I was appointed Specialist Advisor to the House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee inquiry into dentistry.
Prizes or Honours
- International Association for Dental Research Distinguished Scientist Award for Behavioural, Epidemiologic and Health Services Research (International Association for Dental Research, 2020)
- Giddon Award for Distinguished Research in the Behavioural Sciences. This award recognizes a single research paper published/in press in 2012 - 2013 in the field of behavioural science, which includes social or cultural anthropology. For the paper: Harris R & Holt R. Interacting logics in general dental practice. Social Science and Medicine 2013; 94: 63-70. (The International Association for Dental Research, 2014)