John Featherstone, MSc, PhD

Dean and Prof Professor, School of Dentistry
Preventive & Restor Dent Sci

John Featherstone, MSc, PhD, is Professor of Preventive and Restorative Dental Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Dean of the School of Dentistry. He earned his M.Sc. in physical chemistry from the University of Manchester (UK) and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Wellington (New Zealand).

His research over the past 34 years has covered several aspects of cariology (study of tooth decay) including fluoride mechanisms of action, caries risk assessment, de- and remineralization of the teeth, apatite chemistry, salivary dysfunction, caries (tooth decay) prevention, and laser effects on dental hard tissues with emphasis on caries prevention and early caries removal. He is currently active in implementing caries management by risk assessment in several dental schools across the nation.

He has won numerous national and international awards, including the International Association for Dental Research distinguished scientist award for research in dental caries (2000), the Zsolnai Prize from the European Caries Research Organization (2002) for his lifelong contributions to caries research, the “Ericsson Prize in Preventive Dentistry” by the Swedish Patent Fund (2002) and the Norton Ross Award for excellence in clinical research from the American Dental Association (2007).

He has published over 200 manuscripts and book chapters. He is the principal investigator on one National Institutes of Health RO1 grant and co-investigator on five other NIH grants.

The Featherstone lab is currently involved in research in the following fields:

  1. Effects of Lasers on Dental Hard Tissues
    The overall objective of this research is to provide fundamental information about the effects of laser light on dental hard tissues (enamel and dentin of the teeth) in order to develop means of using lasers to a) detect early decay, b) treat teeth and modify the mineral for the prevention of the progression of dental decay.
  2. Management of Dental Decay by Risk Assessment
    These studies involve the application of microbiological and chemical assays of saliva as part of a risk assessment scheme to enable the management of dental decay by prevention and conservative treatment rather than conventional physical removal of decay and placement of restorations (fillings).
  3. Biological mineral and protein interactions
    Biological mineral is a defective calcium phosphate crystalline material. Studies of protein/mineral interactions are in progress to understand the processes of biomineralization.

NRSA trainees can participate in scientific and laboratory aspects of any of the above areas, dependent on their background and interests.

Education and Training
  • University of Manchester (UK)
    Physical Chemistry
  • University of Wellington (New Zealand)
Awards and Honors
  • American Dental Association
    Norton Ross Award
    Norton Ross Award, American Dental Association, 2007
  • Swedish Patent Fund
    Ericsson Prize in Preventive Dentistry
    Ericsson Prize in Preventive Dentistry, Swedish Patent Fund, 2002
  • European Caries Research Organization
    Zsolnai Prize
    Zsolnai Prize, European Caries Research Organization, 2002
  • International Association for Dental Research
    Distinguished Scientist Award
    Distinguished Scientist Award, International Association for Dental Research, 2000