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Dr. Özlem Yilmaz' laboratory focuses on opportunistic bacteria and host interaction. Her lab is particularly interested in the molecular underpinnings of a major oral pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis in evasion of host cell anti-microbial response and survival in the gingival epithelial mucosa using advanced human primary cell systems and transgenic mouse-models. Dr. Yilmaz' lab is one of the a few research teams in the US uniquely dedicated to uncover the complex interplay between host epithelium and periodontopathic bacteria in the induction of microbial dysbiosis and pathophysiology in oral mucosa. Chronic infection by P. gingivalis, an important invasive bacterium, can specifically contribute to a series of severe chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and orodigestive cancers. Investigating the cellular persistence of this pathogen within host can lead to development of rational treatment strategies for P. gingivalis associated diseases which are still largely lacking.
Check Out Our Feature on NIH!

Our work was selected by the NIH to be included in their Image Gallery

Dr. Yilmaz became an Overseas Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine

Dr. Özlem Yilmaz was honored to become an Overseas Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, England in December 2017. The society is one of the U.K.’s major providers of postgraduate medical education. The Society promotes an exchange of information and ideas on the science, practice and organisation of medicine.

JoAnn Roberts has been invited to study at the Karolinska Institutet

JoAnn Roberts M.S., a PhD candidate in our lab, has been granted a scholarship to study redox biology this summer at the Karolinska Institutet.

JoAnn Roberts was awarded F31 Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Grant Award 

Congratulations to JoAnn Roberts, PhD Candidate in our lab, was recently awarded prestigious F31 Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Grant Award from NIDCR.

Jaden Lee was awarded prestigious AADR Student Research Fellowship

Jaden Lee, a DMD/PhD candidate in our, lab has won an AADR STudent Research Award to supplement his current research and travel to the next AADR meetings.

Jaden Lee was awarded F30 Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Grant Award for dual Doctoral Degree Fellowships
Jaden and Dr. Yilmaz in IADR meeting in

Congratulations to Jaden Lee, DMD/PhD candidate in our lab! Jaden was recently awarded an NIH F30 Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award from NIDCR.

Microbes and Infection:     Special Issue

In July 2015, Dr. Yilmaz edited a special issue in Microbes and Infection, Institut Pasteur, that focuses on oral pathogens and microbiome in health and disease. 

Recent Selected Publications

  • Patel S, Howard D, Chowdhury N, Derieux C, Wellslager B, Yilmaz O, and French L (2021). Characterization of human genes modulated by Porphyromonas gingivalis highlights the ribosome, hypothalamus, and cholinergic neurons. Front Immunol. 12:646259. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.646259

  • Lee, JS, Yilmaz, O (2020). Key Elements of Gingival Epithelial Homeostasis upon Bacterial Interaction. Invited Review, Critical Reviews in Oral Biology & Medicine Section. Journal of Dental Res. Nov 17;22034520973012. doi: 10.1177/0022034520973012.

  • Lee, JS, Chowdhury N, Roberts, JS, and Yilmaz O (2020). Host surface ectonucleotidase-CD73 and the opportunistic pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis, cross-modulation underlies a new homeostatic mechanism for chronic bacterial survival in human epithelial cells. Virulence. 11:414-429. doi: 10.1080/21505594.2020.1763061.

  • Lee J, Spooner R, Chowdhury N, Pandey V, Wellslager B, Atanasova K, Evans Z, Yilmaz O (2020). In Situ Intraepithelial Localizations of Opportunistic Pathogens, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Filifactor alocis, in Human Gingiva. Current Research in Microbial Sciences. 1, 7-17. doi: 10.1016/j.crmicr.2020.05.001.

  • Olsen I and Yilmaz O (2019). Possible role of Porphyromonas gingivalis in orodigestive cancers. J Oral Microbiol. Jan 9;11(1):1563410. doi: 10.1080/20002297.2018.1563410. eCollection 2019.

  • Lee K, Roberts JS, Choi C, Atanasova KR, Yilmaz O (2018) Porphyromonas gingivalis Traffics into Endoplasmic Reticulum-Rich-Autophagosomes for Successful Survival in Human Gingival Epithelial Cells, Virulence  April 4:1-26. doi:10.1080/21505594.2018.1454171

  • Lee JN, Roberts JS, Atanasova KR, Chowdhury N and Yilmaz O (2018) A Novel Kinase Function of a Nucleoside-diphosphate-kinase Homolog in P.  gingivalis is Critical in Subversion of Host Cell Apoptosis by Targeting Heat-Shock Protein 27, Cellular Microbiology, Jan 22. doi: 10.1111/cmi.12825

  • Lee J, Roberts JS, Atanasova KR, Han K, Chowdhury N and  Yilmaz O (2017) Human Primary Epithelial Cells Acquire an Epithelial-Mesenchymal-Transition Phenotype during Long-term Infection by the Oral Opportunistic Pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis. Front Cell Infect Microbiol.   Dec 1;7:493. doi:  10.3389/fcimb.2017.00493.