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Ozlem Yilmaz D.D.S., Ph.D.

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  • Professor
  • College of Dental Medicine
  • Oral Health Sciences
Academic Focus
  • Microbe-Host Interaction in The Oral Cavity
  • Periodontal Diseases
  • Oral and Chronic Systemic Diseases Association


Office Location


Click Below Link for Dr. Yilmaz' Lab Website:

 Özlem Yilmaz, DDS, PhD

Department of Oral Health Sciences
Director, Center for Oral Health Clinical Research


Ph.D., University of Washington, 2002

D.D.S., Istanbul University

Professional Experience:

2016-present: Professor, Medical University of South Carolina, and Director, Center for Oral Health Clinical Research

2016-present: Joint Professor, Microbiology and Immunology

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, Paris, France

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

Main Research Interests

Dr.  Özlem Yilmaz' laboratory focuses on opportunistic pathogens and oral epithelial cell interaction. In particular, we study the bacterial modulation of molecular epithelial cell response, 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 and systemic diseases.

Selected Publications

·        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, In Press.

·        Lee J, Yilmaz O (2018) “Unfolding Role of a Danger Molecule Adenosine Signaling in Modulation of Infection and Host Cell Response”. Invited Review, Special Issue: Purinergic Signalling in Cancer and Inflammation, Int. J. Mol. Sci. 19(1), 199; doi:10.3390/ijms19010199.

·        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. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiol.  Dec 1;7:493. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2017.00493.

·        Roberts JS, Atanasova KR, Lee J, Diamond G, Deguzman JV, Choi CH, and Yilmaz O (2017), “Opportunistic Pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis Modulates Danger Signal ATP-mediated Antibacterial NOX2 Pathways in Primary Epithelial Cells”.  Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiol 2017 Jul 4;7:291. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2017.00291.

·        Spooner R, Weigel K, Harrison PL, Lee KL, Cangelosi G, and Yilmaz O (2016) In situ Anabolic Activity of Periodontal Pathogens Porphyromonas gingivalis And Filifactor alocis In Chronic Periodontitis Scientific Reports 6, 33638; doi: 10.1038/srep33638.

·        Atanasova K, Lee J, Roberts J, Lee K , David M Ojcius, Yilmaz O (2016) Nucleoside-Diphosphate-Kinase of P. gingivalis is Secreted from Epithelial Cells In the Absence of a Leader Sequence Through a Pannexin-1 Interactome, Scientific Reports, 6, 37643; doi:10.1038/srep37643  

 ·        Bui FQ, Johnson L, Roberts JS, Hung SC, Lee JN, Atanasova KR, Huang PR, Yilmaz O, and Ojcius DM (2016) Fusobacterium nucleatum Infection of Gingival Epithelial Cells Leads to NLRP3 Inflammasome-Dependent Secretion of the Danger Signals ASC and HMGB1.  Cellular Microbiology, Jul;18(7):97081.                                                                 

·        Morandini AC, Santos FC, Yilmaz O (2016), “Role of Epigenetics in Modulation of Immune Response At the Junction of Host Pathogen Interaction and Danger Molecule Signaling” Pathogens & Disease, DOI: 10.1093/femspd/ftw082.

·        Olsen I, Yilmaz O (2016), “Modulation of Inflammasome activity by Porphyromonas gingivalis in Periodontitis and Associated Systemic Diseases”, Journal of Oral Microbiology, Feb 4;8:30385.                                                                                             

·        Johnson, L, Atanasova, KR,  Bui,PQ, Lee, JN,  Hung,SC, Yilmaz O*,  Ojcius DM* (2015) Porphyromonas gingivalis Attenuates ATP-Mediated Inflammasome Activation and HMGB1 release through Expression of a Nucleoside-diphosphate kinase.  Microbes & Infection 17(5):369-77. (* denotes shared corresponding authorship).                              

·        Roberts JS, Yilmaz O (2015), “Dangerous Liaisons: Caspase-11 and Reactive Oxygen Species Crosstalk in Pathogen Elimination”, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 16 (10):23337-54.                                                                                               

·        Atanasova K R and Yilmaz O (2015), “Prelude to Oral Microbes and Chronic Diseases: Past, Present and Future”, Microbes & Infection, Special Issue on Oral Microbes,17(7):473-83.

 ·        Lee KL, Yilmaz O (2015) “The Inflammasome and Danger Molecule Signaling: At the Crossroads of Inflammation and Pathogen Persistence in the Oral Cavity”, Periodontology 2000, Vol 69, 83 95.                                                                          

·        Spooner R, DeGuzman JV, Lee KL, and Yilmaz O (2014) Danger Signal Adenosine Stimulates Growth of Porphyromonas gingivalis in Primary Gingival Epithelial Cells. Molecular Oral Microbiology 29: 67-78.                                                                          

·        Atanasova K R, Yilmaz O (2014), “Looking in the Porphyromonas gingivalis Cabinet of Curiosities: The Microbium, the Host and Cancer Association”, Molecular Oral Microbiology 29: 55-66.                                                                                                        

·        Choi CH, Spooner R, DeGuzman JV, Koutouzis T, Ojcius DM, and Yilmaz O (2013) P. gingivalis- Nucleoside-diphosphate-kinase Inhibits ATP Induced Reactive-Oxygen-Species via P2X7 Receptor/NADPH- Oxidase Signaling and Contributes to Persistence. Cellular Microbiology, Jun;15(6):961-76.                                                         

·        Spooner R., and Yilmaz O (2012) “Nucleoside-diphosphate-kinase: a pleiotropic effector in microbial colonization under interdisciplinary characterization”, Microbes & Infection   Mar; 14(3):228-37.                                                                                              

·        Choi CH, DeGuzman J V, Lamont RJ, and Yilmaz O (2011) Genetic Transformation of an Obligate Anaerobe, Porphyromonas gingivalis for the FMN- Green Fluorescent Protein Expression in Studying Host Microbe Interaction PLoS ONE 15;6(4):e18499.           

·        Yilmaz O, Sater AA, Yao L, Koutouzis T, Pettengill M, and Ojcius DM (2010) ATP-Dependent Activation of An Inflammasome In Primary Gingival Epithelial Cells Infected By Porphyromonas gingivalis. Cellular Microbiology 12(2), 188–198.                                 

·        Yao L, Jermanus C, Barbetta B, Choi CH, Verbeke P, Ojcius D M, and Yilmaz O (2010) Porphyromonas gingivalis infection sequesters pro-apoptotic Bad through Akt in primary gingival epithelial cells. Molecular Oral Microbiology 25(2) 89-101.                          

·        Avila M., Ojcius DM., and Yilmaz O (2009) “Oral microbiota: Living with a Permanent Guest” DNA and Cell Biology, Special Issue: Symbioses 28 (8) 405-411.                            

·        Kuboniwa, M.,Hasegawa Y., Mao, S., Shizukuishi, S., Amano, A., Lamont R.J., and Yilmaz O (2008) P. gingivalis accelerates gingival epithelial cell progression through the cell cycle. Microbes & Infection 10 (2): 122-8.                                                 

·        Yilmaz O, Yao, L., Maeda, K., Rose, T.M., Lewis E.L., Duman, M., Lamont, R.J., and Ojcius, D.M (2008)   ATP Scavenging by the Intracellular Pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis Inhibits P2X7-mediated Host-Cell Apoptosis. Cellular Microbiology 10 (4) 863-875 ·  

·        Yilmaz O (2008) “The chronicles of Porphyromonas gingivalis: the microbium, the human epithelium, and their interplay”, Microbiology 154 (10) 2897-2903.                            

·        Yilmaz O, Verbeke, P., Lamont, R.J., Ojcius,D.M. (2006) Intercellular spreading of Porphyromonas gingivalis infection in primary gingival epithelial cells. Infection & Immunity 74 703 71.                                                                                                            

·        Yilmaz O, Jungas, T., Verbeke, P., Ojcius, D.M. (2004) Activation of the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase/Akt pathway contributes to survival of primary epithelial cells infected with the periodontal pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis. Infection & Immunity 72 3743-3751.

·        Yilmaz O, Young, P.A., Lamont, R.J., Kenny, G.E. (2003). Gingival epithelial signaling and cytoskeletal responses to P. gingivalis invasion. Microbiology 149 2417-26.                

·        Yilmaz O, Watanabe, K., and Lamont R.J. (2002) Involvement of integrins in fimbriae mediated binding and invasion by P.gingivalis. Cellular Microbiology 4 (5) 305-314.

     Book Chapters and Editorials

·        Yilmaz O, Ojcius DM (2015) "A new frontier: oral microbes without borders." Microbes & Infection, Editorial, Jul;17(7):469-70.  

·        Yilmaz O (2011) Chapter “Interactions of Porphyromonas gingivalis with Human Gingival Epithelium” in “Oral Microbial Communities: Genomic Inquiry and Interspecies Communication” Chapter 14, 207-219, Edited by Paul E Kolenbrander, American Society of Microbiology.                                                                                                     

·        Yilmaz O, Lamont, R.J. (2004) Chapter “Invasion by P.gingivalis”, in “Bacterial Invasion of Host Cells”, Chapter 10, 295-315, Cambridge University Press.

 Complete list of Dr. Yilmaz' Publications in NCBI