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Now, he is the faculty’s deputy dean and has just received an International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Distinguished Scientist Award, in recognition of his outstanding research in oral microbiology.
Prof Cannon completed a biochemistry undergraduate degree and went on to do a PhD in biochemistry microbiology at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.
He said he only joined the faculty because it had a strong group of scientists doing research on Candida.
For the past 37 years, Prof Cannon’s research has been particularly focused on the yeast Candida albicans, which causes infections in various sites of the body, including the mouth.
"As Candida develops drug resistance, there are continual challenges in drug development to get effective drugs that don’t harm us, that kill the micro-organisms and that might be long lasting."
He said he had been engrossed in microbiological research for the past 37 years because microbes were evolving so fast.
"You come up with a solution, but then they evolve a way to get around that.
"You’re never finished. There’s always more to do because the micro-organisms replicate so fast and mutate and change."
Prof Cannon has made many breakthroughs during his career, including developing a set of tools that could, for the first time, study the function of genes in Candida albicans.
These tools have proven to be very useful. They have been requested by, and supplied to, 48 laboratories in 13 countries.
"I am extremely honoured to receive this acknowledgement from the international dental research community," he said.