Professor Jenny Gallagher
Head of Population & Patient Health
Newland Pedley Professor of Oral Health Strategy
Head of Dental Public Health
Honorary Consultant in Dental Public Health
Division of Population & Patient Health
Date started at King’s
Challenges and achievements
When and what was responsible for you becoming interested in your academic discipline?
My first contact with King's College London was back in 1990 when I studied for a Diploma in Community Dental Practice. The programme provided insight to health services population oral health and highlighted the importance of a public health approach if we wanted to make a strategic difference to health. I just attended one day per week, but in retrospect, a very important step in my professional career. And I made some good friends in the process.
What are your research interests, and what drew you to this area?
I am particularly interested in the health workforce. For my doctoral research I looked at health services in London and the interplay between specialties providing facial, oral and dental surgery. The interest was sparked by undertaking a review of health services as part of my specialist training. Health professionals are expensive to train and the type of care we provide; how we deliver care, whether in teams or individually, is important; as well as where care is delivered if we are to serve patients effectively. Of course as a specialist in Dental Public Health, I am particularly interested in how we promote health and prevent disease.
Tell us about a couple of your achievements that have been particularly rewarding.
I was President of the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry in 2012 and hosted a joint conference with our European Association. It was fantastic to see colleagues across Europe actively sharing with one another, formally and informally. I really enjoy teaching students and training specialists. It is great to have been involved in supporting the careers of consultants and academics. One of my trainees is now a chief dental officer and another one is a Professor! Nationally, it has been a privilege to be part of national working groups at the Department of Health, one of which has involved looking at the evidence base for prevention of oral disease. It is called ‘Delivering better oral health’. It is a tool for the dental workforce and patients to maintain good oral health throughout life and a really important aspect of contemporary dentistry.
Do you have professional role models? Who are they and what do you find inspiring about them and their accomplishments?
My first role models were the consultants in oral surgery in Belfast where I trained; their love of excellence and their commitment to patients has stayed with me. My first female role model was a doctor called Helen Rosevere who shaped a network of health care and established the training of mid-level providers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I met her personally and visited this area for an elective in the 1980’s as a dental student. Dame Margaret Seward was the first female to be President of the General Dental Council and Chief Dental officer; she knew how to achieve change and take people with her.
What do you feel is the most enjoyable/rewarding aspect of your job at King’s?
I really enjoy teaching and training students who are interested in Dental Public Health.
How do you balance the various demands of a career in academia: research, teaching/learning, administration?
Life is busy and I continually have to juggle and prioritise. I head up a Division of Population and Patient Health within the Dental Institute with researchers who are looking at everything from the global burden of disease through to improving patient care. I have responsibilities for teaching Dental Public Health to undergraduates and postgraduates, supervising masters and PhD student research. In addition, as a clinical academic I have a specialist role which involves working with the health service and other agencies such as Public Health England.
How do you balance an academic career with life outside the workplace?
I make sure that I have responsibilities outside of work that keep me ‘grounded’ in the real world. And I have a wonderfully supportive family, with whom it is a pleasure to spend time. Sharing the important things in life with family, friends and colleagues is very special.
What have you learnt from your experiences that you would like to share with others?
I have been so privileged. I cannot believe the wonderful opportunities that professional life has offered. I am truly delighted to have been awarded a personal chair at King’s.