Joshua Thomson

Joshua Thomson

Associate Professor
Interim Director of Research Administration

Joshua Thomson
Contact Info:
Campus: Corktown Campus
Room: DC 427
Phone: 313-494-6853
Joshua Thomson


  • Ph.D., Wayne State University
  • B.S, University of Detroit Mercy


Prof. Thomson teaches microbiology and immunology to dental and dental hygiene students and residents, with a specific emphasis on infectious diseases and infection control. Prof. Thomson received his Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Detroit Mercy in 2009. He received his Ph.D. in Immunology and Microbiology from Wayne State University School of Medicine in 2014.  Prof. Thomson is the coordinator for the Summer Undergraduate Research Program at the School of Dentistry.  He joined the university in 2014.

Research Activity 

His main research focus is directed towards the use of natural compounds and bacteriophage as therapeutics against dental pathogens, as well as defining microbiological characteristics of dental materials. His continued research interests include describing mechanisms of serum resistance in the human bacterial pathogen, Yersinia pestis.

Complete list to published works: Prof. Joshua Thomson


    Research Projects

    1. Isolation of bacteriophage that specifically target dental pathogens and evaluation of therapeutic potential.

    Dental caries, signified by the breakdown of enamel on the surface of teeth, is one of the most common chronic infectious diseases worldwide and the most common chronic disease of childhood. Initiation of dental caries is highly correlated with the presence of the bacterium, Streptococcus mutans. Bacteriophage are viruses that infect bacteria and are highly specific to the species they infect. S. mutans is a candidate target for potential bacteriophage therapy to specifically control the initiation of the caries without harming the normal microbiota. Previous attempts at isolating bacteriophage against S. mutans have proven difficult due to the bacteriophage defense mechanisms and bacteriophage specificity. Our goal is to discover new bacteriophage that target S. mutans and elucidate the therapeutic potential of using S. mutans bacteriophage in the oral cavity.

    2. Determine the bactericidal activity of natural compounds against oral pathogens.

    There is a growing interest in the use of natural products in society for many applications. One particular product produced by bees, propolis, has been extensively studied due to its many biological properties, ranging from anti-microbial to anti-inflammatory and much more. Our goal is to define the bactericidal activity of propolis against dental pathogens and its potential uses in dentistry.

    3. Implementation of commercial microbiological identification kits as educational aids during dental visits.

    Dental diseases, such as caries and gum disease, are driven mainly by bacterial pathogens. Dental plaque is a biofilm that consists of many species of bacteria, some of which are associated with disease progression. We brush and floss our teeth every day to reduce the amount of plaque on our teeth, thus lowering the amount of bacteria present that could potentially lead to dental disease. The goal of this project is to implement the use of commercially available kits that identify/quantify these specific dental pathogens that are correlated with poor oral health in order to educate patients on the necessity of consistently practicing proper oral hygiene techniques.


    Grants & Funding

    Dr. Thomson is a Co-investigator on a grant from NIH Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) NIH R21 AI 133570 entitled: 

    “Ail-mediated serum resistance in Yersinia pestis and its contribution to plague virulence”

    The Thomson Lab participates in research projects supported by two grants from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry entitled:

    “Isolation of bacteriophages that target and kill dental pathogens”
    “Use of Red Propolis as an intracanal medication and MMP inhibitor”


    Research Team

    2018-2019 Members:

    Jamal Alhabeil, Laboratory Technician and Lab Coordinator
    Laura Young, Laboratory Research Assistant
    Maryam Al Dabbas, Laboratory Assistant

    Dental Students:

    Sahil Sawnani – DS2 (Class of 2021)
    Dylan Salem – DS2 (Class of 2021)
    Jonathan Toma – DS1 (Class of 2022)

    Undergraduate Students:

    Autumn Murry – BUILD Scholar – Detroit Mercy
    Payal Patel – Detroit Mercy
    Hanaa Saleh – Detroit Mercy
    Rita Salim – Detroit Mercy
    Nicolena Lulgjuraj – Oakland University (Class of 2017) 

    Past Lab Members:

    Former Dental Students:

    Shahbaz Randhawa (Class of 2020)
    Jayce Mathew (Class of 2020)

    Former Hygiene Students:

    Sally Al-Hajaj (Class of 2019)
    Alexandra Seely (Class of 2019)
    Jordyn Dunlap (Class of 2019)
    Chelsea Noah (Class of 2019)
    Samantha Howell (Class of 2018)
    Kori Fetner (Class of 2018)
    Rachel Ferree (Class of 2018)
    Reginald Westley (Class of 2018)