Dr Symons' major scientific interest is in the field of craniofacial development. Unlike many tissues in the body, dental structures have a limited capacity to repair or regenerate following the insult of injury and disease.
Dr Symons' research is involved with optimising current measures and developing new therapeutic regimes to promote healing and regeneration in the craniofacial complex. She has developed an expertise in the area of bone metabolism, odontogenesis, osteoclast activity, growth factors, tooth development, tooth eruption and orthodontic tooth movement. Her current projects are concerned with the application of prostaglandin E2, to induce local mineralised tissue formation, and lipoxin A4, to resolve inflammation, in order to develop localised therapeutic treatments for alveolar bone defects and inflammatory conditions. She is currently investigating the use of polymer foams to aid healing of surgically placed defects in bone. Other areas of scientific research include the prevention of tooth decay, restoration of teeth, dental trauma, oral health needs of the medically compromised patient and dental education.
This research has been presented at numerous national and international conferences and at local seminars. The innovative nature and quality of the scientific research carried out in Queensland has been recognised internationally. Dr Symons was invited and fully funded to present at international conferences in the USA and Europe by the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and the Harvard Society for the Advancement of Orthodontics. Dr Symons' research has been funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Dental Research Foundation and the University of Queensland. In recognition of her scientific research and large teaching responsibility she was awarded a Promoting Women Fellowship by the University of Queensland in 1998. For her contribution to science within the community Dr Symons was awarded a Smart Women - Smart State Award 2004 by the Queensland Government for in the Women in the Public Sector category. In 2004, Dr Symons was awarded a Doctor of Dental Science for her research in the field of craniofacial development.
Current Research Projects:
- Bone metabolism, includes osteoclast activity, growth factors. Current projects are concerned with the application of prostaglandin E2, to induce local mineralised tissue formation, and lipoxin A4, to resolve inflammation, in order to develop localised therapeutic treatments for alveolar (jaw) bone defects and inflammatory conditions
- Odontogenesis, includes growth factors, tooth development, tooth eruption and orthodontic tooth movement
- Use of polymer scaffolds to aid healing of surgical bone defects
- Role of saliva in tooth structure loss
- Restoration of teeth using dental adhesives
- Dental changes in the aging koala
- Effect of remineralising agents on demineralised dentine