Project code


Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project.

The PhD will be based in the Dental Academy and will be supervised by Dr Mahdi Mutahar (University of Portsmouth) and Professor Anwesha Sarkar (University of Leeds). 

The work on this project will:

  • Develop a novel suite of experimental methods to study the properties of acquired enamel pellicle when exposed to model sugary and acidic foods
  • Examine the change in properties of whole mouth salivary proteins as a function of pH, sugar concentration and type
  • Identify potential salivary proteins that may provide a protective role against dental erosion caused by sugary and acidic drinks

Dental erosion involves the loss of the hard tooth substances due to acidic sources from food and drink (extrinsic) and stomach acid (intrinsic) and has become a prevalent oral health problem which can lead to many clinical concerns such as poor appearance, loss of function, pain and discomfort. The protective roles of proteins and minerals in saliva and acquired enamel pellicle against dental erosion have been well documented. The thickness and lubrication performance of the acquired enamel pellicle is influenced by a number of chemical, biological and behavioural factors including the role of whole mouth saliva, as well as the severity of, and duration of exposure to, acidic food and drinks. 

The sugars in drinks can also play a synergistic role in dental erosion. The modification of both saliva and acquired enamel pellicle as well as the true erosive potential of sugary and acidic drinks remains poorly understood. The type, concentration and interplay of sugar-acid on changing the thickness and lubricity of whole mouth saliva and acquired enamel pellicle are yet to be studied. Therefore, a better understanding of the salivary protein interactions in whole mouth saliva as well as acquired enamel pellicle when exposed to sugar-acid food environment are of paramount importance in understanding the mechanism of dental erosion progression. This PhD project led by Dr. Mahdi Mutahar at University of Portsmouth Dental Academy in collaboration with the Colloids and Oral Tribology laboratory of Prof. Anwesha Sarkar at University of Leeds will address this knowledge gap using a novel suite of in vivo and in vitro experimental approaches. A range of biochemical techniques, optical methods, tribology measurements and quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring will be employed.

Fees and funding

Visit the research subject area page for fees and funding information for this project.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in Biological Science or a related area. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

The successful candidate preferably will have a strong background in Biological Sciences, Food Science or Chemistry and allied subjects and/or Dentistry.

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Mahdi Mutahar ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, please follow the 'Apply now' link on the Dental and Oral Health PhD subject area page and select the link for the relevant intake. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

When applying please quote project code: UPDA5091023