Professor Paul Cooper is probably the only person to have worked in the two newest dental school buildings on the planet.
He is the newly appointed Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Otago and says he is “truly honoured to take on this role at such an exciting time following the recent opening of the Faculty of Dentistry’s brand new and world leading facilities”.
Otago opened its new Clinical Services Building, alongside an extensively refurbished Walsh Building, in June 2019. In Birmingham, Professor Cooper worked in an integrated dental hospital and school building that opened in 2016.
Professor Cooper is currently the John Arnaud Bell Professor of Oral Biology, in the Department of Oral Sciences at Otago. He came to the University in 2019 from Birmingham, where he was Professor of Oral Biology, Director of Research and Deputy Head of School at the School of Dentistry, University of Birmingham.
Otago Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Helen Nicholson, says Professor Cooper’s leadership experience and distinguished career in research make him the ideal appointment. “Otago has the only dental school in Aotearoa New Zealand, and it is one of the top ranked dental schools in the world, so Professor Cooper has taken on a very important role.
“His experience as a leader and his success in research make him the ideal person to be leading this outstanding team on to future success.”
Professor Cooper will take over the role in July next year. He says he is looking forward to leading the talented staff, whom he has got to know over the last two years.
“The Faculty of Dentistry is well established in delivering high-quality education, research and clinical training. I am therefore delighted to be able to work with a team who have such excellent expertise across the board. Tremendous opportunities lie ahead. I am also looking forward to working more closely with the Division of Heath Sciences and University of Otago colleagues.”
Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Division of Health Sciences, Professor Paul Brunton says the Division is “delighted to have found such a strong candidate from within our team at the Faculty of Dentistry, which speaks to the calibre of the staff at this world-class facility”.
“Professor Cooper is taking over from our very capable and much respected Dean Mike Morgan. Mike has played a significant part in realising the significant investment in, and expansion of, the school and we thank him for his huge contribution.”
Professor Cooper has a distinguished career in research. In 2010, he was recipient of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Distinguished Scientist Young Investigator Award and he is currently the President of the Pulp Biology and Regeneration Group of IADR. He has been awarded more than $10 million in external research funding and his broad portfolio of research activity focuses on the dental and oral basic sciences with clinical translation, working extensively with clinical colleagues to develop novel treatments and therapeutics.
Professor Cooper will continue in his research activity alongside his new role.
“The Faculty already has an excellent track record in research and I’m looking forward to working with basic and clinical scientists in this area. There are tremendous translational opportunities for the development of novel diagnostics and treatments, and I am keen to pursue these areas and increase our research activity.”