Eastman Dental Institute


Happy International Women’s Day – introducing some of our leading women

8 March 2018

International Women's Day


As an academic institution we are committed to promoting gender equality that recognises, promotes and rewards the contribution of women in academia.

Since 2008 the number of female academics at EDI has doubled to well over the national average and 50% have been promoted to the post of senior lecturer or above.

We have dedicated considerable resources to improving the opportunities, work-life balance and careers of women – as recognised by our Silver Athena SWAN award.

UCL Eastman Director, Professor Stephen Porter, said: "The success of any academic institute rests upon a workforce that works well together and acknowledges that each staff member has individual strengths and needs.

"Over half of our taught and research postgraduates are women and the creation of a Centre for Postgraduate Research has helped ensure that we gain similar improvements in PhD female percentages.

"We are committed to achieving an environment that maximises the opportunities for all staff, regardless of their gender, age, seniority, expertise or caring responsibilities."

Meet some of our leading women:

Dr Elaine Allan

Dr Elaine Allan is a Senior Lecturer in Microbial diseases within our Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering research department.

Elaine said: "I have always been fascinated by how bacteria use signals from their environment to control their behaviour.

"For me, generating basic knowledge and then applying this to real world challenges is the best part of my current job.

"Teaching microbiology and trying to inspire the next generation of female scientists through outreach activities is another part that is immensely satisfying."


Professor Susan Cunningham

Professor Susan Cunningham is Professor of Orthodontics  and a honorary consultant.

Susan said: "The training programme for any clinical academic is arduous and, although I really enjoyed my training and enjoyed doing my PhD, it is a long haul. It does mean being extremely focused and committed.

"I genuinely do love orthodontics – I still get a huge sense of achievement out of the changes we make in people’s lives as a result of treatment.

"I feel very lucky to be in such a great specialty with such great colleagues and to be able to make a real difference."


Dr Dina Dedi

Dr Dina Dedi is the Director of Aesthetic Dentistry at the Institute.

Dina said: "I qualified in Greece and then relocated to the USA where I specialised in Prosthodontics and completed a fellowship programme in Maxillofacial Prosthetics and Dental Oncology at the University of Houston.

"After teaching at the University of North Carolina I was delighted to move to London in 2007 and one of the most prestigious Dental Institutes in the world, UCL Eastman.

"I love my working week. The fulfilment and satisfaction from creating a healthy and attractive natural smile for a patient is immense. It is creative and very stimulating.

"I love treating my patients and I thoroughly enjoy the interaction with colleagues through teaching."


Dr Rachel Leeson

Dr Rachel Leeson is the Programme Director for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, an Honorary Consultant in Oral Surgery and the Departmental Graduate Tutor for all Research postgraduates.

"I joined the staff at the Eastman in 1994 and never envisaged I’d still be here nearly a quarter of a century later.

"As a clinical academic my role continues to constantly evolve with every moment simply filled to capacity.

"Each day presents with unique and precious opportunities to care for patients, to teach and inspire the next generation of postgraduates and to supervise and participate in novel research."


Dr Susan Parekh

Dr Susan Parekh is Programme Director for the MSc Certificate in Paediatric Dentistry, and Programme Coordinator for the DDent in Paediatric Dentistry.

Susan said "In 2014, we co-created the first online MSc in Paediatric dentistry. The flexibility of this programme is beneficial for women wanting to balance home and work life.

"I enjoy the variety in my job: my week varies between treating child patients, teaching postgraduate students and undertaking research.

"I also give talks at various locations and represent UCL and the speciality of paediatric dentistry at various meetings - so no two weeks really are the same."


Professor Ailbhe McDonald

Professor Ailbhe McDonald is a Senior Consultant and Head of our Prosthodontics Department.

Ailbhe said: “I started out in practice and soon realised that I wanted either an academic or hospital-based career. I joined a Conservative Dentistry MSc programme at UCL Eastman and haven’t looked back. 

“I really enjoy finding the best way to do something, the best way to provide a treatment – such as our research into the best way to whiten teeth - or understanding better how a process, such as tooth erosion, works so we can find solutions.

“I love the variety that my job gives me; teaching, treating patients and research.  Each area feeds into the next; research helps in providing the latest approach to treatment provision, and this in turn means that your teaching is innovative and ground-breaking.”

Professor Anne Young

Researcher Anne Young, Professor of Biomaterials, is developing new materials for repair of tooth and bone.

Anne said: "I enjoy being able to develop solutions to medical problems that affect the majority of the world’s population.

"I am particularly excited about our teams recent collaborative work with industry to CE mark and coordinate clinical trials with a new Eastman material that will greatly simplify restoration of children’s caries affected teeth. 

"I also very much enjoy our current studies with Thailand where we are developing a new bone cement to repair and treat vertebral fractures caused by osteoporosis (which affects 1 in 3 women over 50) or cancer. 

"I’m pleased to be a part of a team which wants to actively identify and remove any inequality in our workforce to maximise their ability to excel."


Professor Yuan Ng

Professor Yuan Ng is a Senior Clinical Lecturer in Endodontology and Director for the MSc and MClinDent programmes in Endodontics.

"I started out in the Hong Kong Government Dental Service. After developing into an all rounded general dental practitioner, I realised that I wanted to take further challenges.

"I joined the MSc programme in Endodontics at UCL Eastman and then stayed on as a clinical academic.

"I enjoy the variety of my current job: teaching, research and treating patients. Our programmes encourage students to connect with departmental research activities, and connect academic learning with clinical practices. I found helping students to develop and fulfil their full potential is the most satisfying."


Dr Wendy Xia

Postdoctoral fellow Wendy Xia, is working on the production of easy-to-use restorative materials for painless tooth restoration in children.

Wendy said: "In previous physical sciences positions I’ve had fewer female colleagues as this discipline tends to be male-dominated.

"But at EDI, the greater gender balance makes it a more pleasant place to work that is very female-friendly.

"I enjoy my current research and working at Eastman because its challenging and multi-disciplinary – it brings together physical scientists, engineers, clinicians, biologists and industrialists - and the environment is dynamic and full of optimism."