Celebrating 100 years of women dental professionals


Professor Liz KayLizKay

Where did you qualify and when? Edinburgh University in 1982

What attracted you to dentistry?

It was a vocational career, but with not as much getting up in the middle of the night as doctors!

Current responsibilities in the profession

I have the great privilege of being the Foundation Dean of Peninsula Dental School, I will always be grateful for having been given the opportunity to found the first new dental school in the UK for 40 years. In addition, I am the Faculty Associate Dean, with particular responsibility for Equality and Inclusion. I am also Public Health Academic Consultant working regionally and nationally with Public Health England, where I focus on inequalities in Oral Health.  I am Programme Lead for an MBA in Healthcare, in collaboration with Plymouth University Business School and Healthcare Learning Company.  This highly innovative blended distance-learning programme offers healthcare professionals the opportunity to undertake action learning within their own healthcare environment. I am a highly committed clinician and teacher, focusing on the delivery of appropriate care to those who find clinical care particularly challenging.  I am the Plymouth University’s stakeholder Governor on the Board of (Shadow) Governors for Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and I sit on the University Athena Swan Committee and the University Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. I am a Non-Executive Director of Plymouth University Hospitals Trust and topic expert to a NICE Public Health Advisory Committee.  In addition, I am a Trustee and Vice Chair of the British Medical and Dental Students’ Trust and am also honoured to be the President and Chair of Trustee Board for the Oral Health Foundation. I chair the Shirley Glasstone Hughes Foundation Management Committee, which oversees the commissioning of funded research relating specifically to dentistry.  Finally, I am a member of the Equality Challenge Unit’s Athena Swan Medical Practice committee and also a judging panel member for Athena Swan, a cause about which I am passionate.  I have authored six books and published over 200 papers and three book chapters. I most recently acted as sole editor of a new comprehensive (250,000 words) textbook for dental undergraduates, collaborating with colleagues from dental schools around the world.   I have been external examiner for 4th BDS at Hong Kong University and an external PhD examiner at Queen Mary’s, Kings College London, University College, London and Hong Kong University. I sit on the Editorial Boards of three journals, including the British Dental Journal and peer-review papers for a large number of other academic publications.

Liz’s dental story

After qualification I took a research job, did my Masters, PhD and Fellowship. Then I became a Senior Lecturer when I was 31 and a full Professor at Manchester University at 39. (I was the first ever female professor in Manchester Dental School, and the first female Professor under the age of 40). I took the challenge of agreeing to set up the first new dental school in the UK for 40+ years, (Peninsula Dental School).

Most memorable achievement in the profession

Being in charge of creating a dental school from absolute scratch....including the physical buildings, the curriculum, the staff, the business model, the management structure, and most importantly, the ethos.

Advice to younger self on qualifying

Don't always listen to your elders and betters....application of common sense is more use to your patients than blindly following of received wisdom.

Most influential mentor(s)

Dame Margaret Seward, Sir John Tooke, my partner


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We believe that all dental professionals would benefit from regularly working with a mentor from a personal as well as a professional point of view. Mentors are experienced dental professionals who can guide and support you throughout your career.

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