Özlem Yilmaz, D.D.S., Ph.D.

Chair, Oral Health Sciences Department

Professor, Oral Health Sciences Department

Professor, Microbiology and Immunology Department

Medical University of South Carolina 


  • Ph.D., University of Washington, Oral Biology, 2002

  • D.D.S., Istanbul University


Professional Experience

2016–present: Professor, Medical University of South Carolina

2010–2015: Associate Professor, University of Florida

2006-2010: Assistant Professor, University of Florida

2002-2006: Post Doctoral Senior Fellow, University of Washington, School of Public Health & Community Medicine

2003: Visiting Scholar, Biologie Moléculaire du Géne, Institut Pasteur (2003)

Honors and Professional Activities (Most Recent)

2017:  Overseas Fellow, The Royal Society of Medicine, England

2014:  University of Florida Research Foundation Professor

2013 – 2019:  Member of NIH Oral, Dental and Craniofacial Diseases (ODCS) Study Panel

2013: Fellow, CTSI Academy of Research Excellence in Human Subjects, University of Florida, College of Medicine

2012: Fellow, Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM), Drexel College of Medicine

2012 to present: Academic Editor, PLOS ONE

2013 to present: Associate Editor, Molecular Oral Microbiology

2015: Guest Editor, Microbes and Infection

2017 to present: Associate Editor, Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology

2018 to present: Editorial Board, Journal of Oral Microbiology

2018 to present: Editorial Board, Scientific Reports

2019 to present: Editorial Board, Cells

2020 to present: Editorial Board, Current Research in Microbial Sciences 

Main Interests

Our' laboratory focuses on opportunistic pathogens and oral epithelial cell interaction. In particular, we study the bacterial modulation of epithelial response mechanisms, as well as the colonization, trafficking, and persistence of oral pathogens within the oral mucosa. Additionally, we examine the relationships between oral bacteria and chronic oral and systemic diseases.