Dr Karolin Hijazi
Dr Karolin Hijazi

Dr Karolin Hijazi

DDS, PhD, FHEA, MFDS RCPS (Glasg)

Clinical Reader

Accepting PhDs

About

Room A107

University of Aberdeen Institute of Dentistry

Foresterhill Campus

Cornhill Road

Aberdeen AB25 2ZR

Biography

Dr Karolin Hijazi graduated from the University of Siena in 2004 with cum laude distinction. During her dental undergraduate programme she trained in molecular microbiology and developed a special interest for host-microbe interactions. After completing a PhD in Pathology at King’s College London in 2008, she worked as post-doctoral research associate and continued her involvement in 3 European Commission-funded projects  aimed at the development of anti-HIV-1 microbicides. During this time she received early clinical training in Oral Medicine at the King’s College London Dental Institute. She was promoted to Senior Clinical Lecturer in 2016 and Clinical Reader in 2021.

Since her appointment to the University of Aberdeen, she has secured research grant funding totalling over 1 million for national and international collaborative projects in which she is the principal investigator. She is a member of the Infection & Immunity Programme of the Institute of Medical Sciences, and leads the Microbial Diseases Research Group at the Institute of Dentistry, active in several research strands concerned with the study of microbe-host interactions at the mucosal interface.

She has been invited to give research seminars at a number prestigious institutions including Imperial College, University College London and the University of Glasgow. She has acted as external PhD examiner for UK and European institutions. She serves on European Commission research grant funding panels.

Students and post-doctoral fellows of her team have received awards at both national (British Society for Oral Medicine; British Society of Periodontology) and international (HIV Research 4 Prevention) scientific conferences.

External Memberships

Expert evaluator for the European Commission (Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe).

Section Editor -  Journal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance (Elsevier). https://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-global-antimicrobial-resistance 

Member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Dental Research (2020-2023).

Member of the Faculty Board of Examiners for the degree of PhD in Medical Biotechnologies, University of Siena (Italy).

Examiner for the Licence in Dental Surgery Examination. Royal College of Surgeons of England, Faculty of Dental Surgery.

Peer-review of articles for a range of Infection and Antimicrobial Chemotherapy journals for example, Plos Pathogens, ASM journals (Journal of Virology, Journal of Bacteriology, Antimicrobial Agents & Chemotherapy), Microbiome, Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, AIDS, Journal of Infectious Diseases as well as dental research journals (Journal of Dental Research, Journal of Oral Microbiology) and Oral Medicine specialist journals (Journal of Oral Pathology & Medicine, Oral Diseases).

Peer-review of research grant applications for MRC and Wellcome Trust.

Member Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Glasgow).

Research

Research Overview

The research work of my laboratory is concerned with the study of microbe-host interactions at the mucosal interface in the context of a range of diseases. Strands of work include the study of:

i)  evolution of antimicrobial resistance as well as the discovery of new genes for antibiotic and biocide resistance in a range of pathogens on the WHO priority list.

ii) virulence mechanisms underpinning bacterial 'opportunistic' infections in the immunocompromised patient.

iii) imbalances of the oral mucosal microbiota and their relationship with events driving mucosal inflammation locally and at systemic level.

iv)  modulation of host-pathogen interactions and distribution of antimicrobial agents to inhibit infections at mucosal sites (in the context of HIV and SARS-CoV-2 infection).

The human mouth harbours one of the most diverse and complex microbial communities in the human body with over 1000 species of commensal bacteria colonizing teeth, gums and other mucosal surfaces. Oral diseases are the commonest bacterial diseases of mankind and the result of breakdown of homeostasis between the commensal microbiota, immune defences and other environmental factors. My research aims to discover bacterial mechanisms which underpin the phenotypic transition of oral bacteria from harmless commensals to a pathogenic state. This is investigated both at community level, for example in the context of perturbances of microbial ecology leading to mucosal inflammatory disease, and at individual species level, for example by investigating the ability of certain low-abundance oral pathogens to contribute to systemic inflammation. A further research strand of my work is to investigate interactions between the mucosal microbiota and HIV-1 mucosal transmission and how these interactions can be exploited for drug discovery.

Research Areas

Accepting PhDs

I am currently accepting PhDs in Biomedical Sciences, Dentistry.


Please get in touch if you would like to discuss your research ideas further.

Email Me

Biomedical Sciences

Supervising
Accepting PhDs

Dentistry

Supervising
Accepting PhDs

Research Specialisms

  • Pre-Clinical Dentistry
  • Genomics
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Immunology

Our research specialisms are based on the Higher Education Classification of Subjects (HECoS) which is HESA open data, published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Current Research

1-Study of the evolution of antimicrobial resistance and discovery of new genes for antibiotic and biocide resistance in key pathogens relevant to hospital-acquired infections:

  • Pan-Scottish collaboration to investigate epidemiological and genetic links between intensive use of biocides and spread of multidrug resistant Staphylococci in intensive care units. 
  • Phylogenetic studies based on genome-wide analysis of national collections of multidrug resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Haemophilus influenzae and ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae.

2- Study of oral microbiota-host interactions

  • oral microbiome studies to inform adjuct/new treatments for oral mucosal inflammatory diseases based on microbial modulation.
  • Investigation of mechanisms underpinning the ability of oral 'pathobionts' to cause systemic inflammation in coronary artery disease.

3- Novel approaches for pre-exposure prophylaxis against HIV-1: Microbicides optimisation through innovative formulations for vaginal and rectal delivery. 

4- Discovery of new inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2: ongoing collaborative projects for screening and optimisation of peptide- and small molecule-based binders of the 'spike' envelope glycoprotein for inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Collaborations

Prof Ian M Gould, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen, UK.

Prof. Charles Kelly, Mucosal and Salivary Biology, Dental Institute, King’s College, London UK.

Prof. Marco Oggioni, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Leicester, Leicester UK.

Dr. Markus Hardt, Forsyth Institute, Harvard School of Medicine, USA.

Prof. Jaqueline Reilly, Department of Nursing and Community Health, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow UK.

Dr Cesar Nebot, Centro Universitario de la Defensa, Spain

Prof Neil Gow, Professor of Microbiology, University of Exeter, Exeter UK.

Dr Iva Navratilova, Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery, University of Dundee, Dundee UK.

Dr Roger LeGrand, CEA, Université Paris Sud, Fontenay-aux-Roses, France.

Prof. Soledad Penades, CIC biomaGUNE, Parque Technologico San Sebastian, Spain.

Prof Guido Vanham, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Antwerp, Belgium.

Prof. Robin Shattock, Mucosal Infection and Immunity, Section of Infectious Diseases, Imperial College, London UK.

Prof Dana Dawson, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK

Funding and Grants

British Heart Foundation.

Friends of Anchor.

European Commission.

British Association of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons.

SULSA.

Tenovus Scotland.

Medical Research Scotland.

Healthcare Infection Society.

NHS Grampian Endowment Fund.

Teaching

Teaching Responsibilities

I am the Academic Lead for Oral Medicine & Oral Pathology for the BDS programme.

I teach on the following courses:

  • BDS. Dental Health & Disease (DE3031, DE4031, DE5031) which I also coordinate
  • BDS. Patient Care (DE4007, DE5007) 
  • Masters in Physician Associate Studies. Advanced Clinical Method (ME5031)

 

Publications

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