Professor Graham Stafford

BSc (Hons), PhD

School of Clinical Dentistry

Personal Chair in Microbiology

Academic lead for Molecular Biology and Microbiology facilities

Director of Postgraduate Research, School of Clinical Dentistry
+44 114 215 9413

Full contact details

Professor Graham Stafford
School of Clinical Dentistry
19 Claremont Crescent
S10 2TA

I joined the Dental School in Sheffield in summer 2007, returning after an absence from Sheffield of nearly 10 years to take up a lecturership in microbiology. My BSc (1st class, honors) was gained from Sheffield in Microbiology and Biochemistry. After which, I gained a PhD at the University of Warwick investigating the molecular mechanisms of methane oxidation in environmental bacteria. In 2002 I joined the Department of Pathology at the University of Cambridge investigating various aspects of flagellar biogenesis in enteric bacteria. This allowed me to develop an interest in protein secretion and the molecular pathogenesis of disease causing bacteria.

My main interests lie in the molecular level understanding of microbes, microbial disease processes and exploitation of this knowledge for improvement of health or commercial translation. The main areas include research on periodontal pathogens, host-pathogen interactions, Industrial Biotechnology and microbial glycobiology. I teach Medical and Oral Microbiology in the Dental School and across other departments at undergraduate and postgraduate level and also supervise a range of research projects at all levels.

Research interests

The Group takes a multidisciplinary approach to investigating a range of biological problems ranging from basic biology to prototype translational projects. There are several areas of research within the group which centres around the study of bacteria with an overall aim at understanding microbial disease processes and exploiting the knowledge we generate for translational purposes wherever possible.

Periodontal pathogens: We focus on Gram-negative anaerobic species, mainly Tannerella forsythia and Porphyromonas gingivalis that are involved in the common disease periodontitis, estimated to affect 700 million people worldwide. However, most of the processes that we study in these bacteria are relevant to a range of human pathogenic bacteria with wide-ranging microbiological implications. For example, we have focused on the role of glycans at the host-pathogen interface revealing novel aspects of pathogen biology that has generated novel antimicrobials lead. This work involves molecular, biochemical and structural biology of bacterial enzymes, some of which have novel properties that have begun commercialisation.

Industrial Biotechnology: Our other main focus is in the developing area of Synthetic Biology where we are working to exploit biotechnological possibilities utilising biological knowledge of bacteria with a particular focus on protein secretion systems.

The group works in collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (MBB) and with commercial partners when appropriate and currently have fruitful links with Ludger LtdGSKBlueberry TherapeuticsPhytoquest and Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies.


Journal articles


Research group
  • Ashley Gains  is funded by a Faculty of Health Scholarship award and is working on the role of outer membrane proteins of oral pathogens on host cell interactions during invasion.
  • Katherine Ansbro is part funded by GSK and working on constructing in vitro biofilm models.
  • Cher Farrugia works with Craig Murdoch and Graham Stafford on an MDH funded studentship on cardiovascular systemic implications of perio disease.
  • Alice Seleiro is a BBSRC iCASE White Rose DTP student working on a biotech project with Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies,
  • Ahmed Almuntashiri  works on Sialic acid transport via TonB in Tannerella, funded by the Saudi government
  • Alhassan Arafaie works on Phage biology of Enterococci
  • Galleh Raphael works on sialidase dependent host responses of oral cells
  • Jenna Jarvis works on EVs senescence and host-pathogen interactions
  • Rawan Alshalan- 1st supervisor Joey Shepherd- works on polymers to inhibit bacterial Quorum sensing.
  • Hollie Shaw -1st supervisor Joey Shepherd- works on persister biofilm cells in MRSA
  • Sophie Hutchinson- Joint supervision with Tom Smith (based at SHU)- antimicrobial plant extracts
  • Elizabeth Court- PDRA on EPSRC Twenty65 Project
Teaching activities
  • DEN 103 The Human Body
  • DEN 104 The Oral Cavity in Health and Disease
  • DEN 204 Basic Oral and Dental Care
  • DEN 303/4 Integrated Human Diseases
  • ORP 609 Laboratory Research Methods
  • ORP 6021 Research project (Oral Pathology MSc)
  • BSc in BioDental Sciences
  • MSc in Antimicrobial Resistance
  • MSc in Dental materials (research projects)
  • DClinDent in periodontology (research projects)
Professional activities and memberships
  • 1998 - present Member of the SGM (Society for General Microbiology)
  • 2009 - present Member of ASM (American Society for Microbiology
  • 2012 - present Member of International Association for Dental Research (IADR)
  • 2014 Lead Sheffield 2014 iGEM team to Gold medal in international competition
  • 2015 - present Member of Biochemical Society
  • 2017 - present Pool reviewer for BBSRC Panels
  • 2017 - present Editorial Board Molecular and Oral Microbiology Journal
  • 2020 - Chair of Oral Microbiology and Immunology Group (OMIG)

Expert reviewer for:

  • Journals- Microbiology, PNAS, Infection and Immunity, Journal of Bacteriology, Molecular Microbiology, Applied and Environmental microbiology, FEMS letters, Biochemical Journal, Anaerobe. Journal of Periodontology, Biomedical Research International, Molecular Oral Microbiology
  • Grant bodies- MRC, BBSRC, Leverhulme, Austrian science foundation

External examining:

BSc in Biochemistry and Biological Sciences- University of Aberystwyth

BDS University of Dundee

MSc in Oral Sciences- University of Glasgow


Postdoc funding: Enquiries are also invited from talented postdoctoral researchers interested in schemes such as the Marie Curie Incoming fellowships, Human Frontiers Scientific Programme or Newton Fellowships are welcome at all times.

PhD Project examples: Enquiries from talented and committed prospective PhD students are welcome in all areas of our research portfolio. In all cases for further information contact Dr Graham Stafford for details. Please also fill out a PhD Enquiry form for the Department - we welcome enquiries from funded overseas applicants warmly.