Yvonne Kapila's research has focused on understanding the basic extracellular matrix (ECM) processes that govern head and neck cancer tumorigenesis and periodontal disease pathogenesis. She has made important discoveries on the cell and molecular biology mechanisms that regulate anoikis; programmed cell death or apoptosis triggered by loss of extracellular matrix contacts. Her work on anoikis has focused on identifying matrix components and novel receptors that mediate this process in head and neck cancer and in periodontal disease. Thus, her research focus in cancer biology and periodontal disease pathogenesis has been examined through the lens of the extracellular matrix. Recently, Yvonne has extended her area of research to biomarker discovery for aggressive head and neck cancer using metabolomic approaches. Her related work in sirtuin biology and oral cancer were seminal and showed that sirtuin 3, a metabolic enzyme, regulates and promotes oral cancer tumorigenesis. A high impact commissioned review written by her group further showcased the important role of sirtuin 3 in cancer biology, both as a tumor promoter and tumor suppressor. Other recently funded work in her lab has focused on host-microbial interactions as relate to the oral cavity. This research recently led to a trilogy of publications on the novel role of bacteriocins in biomedical applications, including as modulators of tumorigenesis and disease-associated biofilms.