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Rock, Leigha Phone: 902-494-8864

Email: leigha.rock@dal.ca
Director, School of Dental Hygiene
Academic Credentials:
•Postdoctoral Fellowship (BC Cancer)

•Ph.D. (Craniofacial Science) (UBC)

•B.D.Sc. (UBC)

•DDH (CNC)
Professional Appointments:
•Director and Assistant Professor, School of Dental Hygiene, Faculty of Dentistry, Dalhousie University
•Cross-appointed, Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine
•Scientist, Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute
•Scientific Affiliate, Department of Anatomical Pathology, QEII, Nova Scotia Health



Research Interests:

Research Projects

1) Early detection and prevention of oral cancer through biomarker discovery:

Establishment of the Dalhousie University Faculty of Dentistry Oral Potentially Malignant Lesion Biobank. (Co-Principle Investigator)

M4OC-Prevent 2.0: Phase IIb trial of metformin for oral cancer prevention. (site Lead Investigator, with H.H.S. Chow [PI]); NIH NCI Division of Cancer Prevention; CP-CTNet Concept Proposal Submission.

Exploring the diversity in the microbiome of high risk oral epithelial dysplasia as a predictor of malignant progression. (Principle Investigator); Network for Canadian Oral Health Research – New Frontiers Seed Grant. (2020 – 2022).

A Bayesian deep neural network for early diagnosis of oral cancers. (co-Investigator, with S. Madathil [PI] and 7 others); CIHR Project Grant. (2021 – 2024).

Oral dysplasia and immune cell spatial relationships: potential indicators of malignant progression. (co-Investigator, with D. Laronde [PI] and 1 other); Canadian Foundation for Dental Hygiene Research and Education. (2020 – 2021).

The chicken or the egg: Differentiating between primary and secondary oral epithelial dysplasia and lichenoid mucositis. (Principle Investigator); Canadian Foundation for Dental Hygiene Research and Education. (2019 – 2020).

2) COVID-19 related research:

COVID-19 incidence rates among Canadian dental hygienists: a cohort study. (Principle Investigator); Canadian Foundation for Dental Hygiene Research and Education (2021- 2022).
COVID-19 experience in Canadian dental schools. (site co-Lead Investigator, with P. Allison [PI] and 14 others); Public Health Agency of Canada. COVID Immunity Task Force. (2021-2022).

Guiding the phased reopening of primary oral health care service delivery in Nova Scotia during the COVID-19 pandemic. (co-Investigator, with M. McNally [PI] and 6 others); Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition. (2020 – 2021).

3) Educational research:

Pan-Canadian Dental Hygiene Degree Programs Educational Outcomes Study. (co-Principle Investigator, with 3 others). (2021-2022).

Research Projects:

  • Closing gaps to oral cancer control using ‘Big Data’ methods – opening the “toolbox:
  • The chicken or the egg: Differentiating between primary and secondary oral epithelial dysplasia and lichenoid mucositis
  • The chicken or the egg: Differentiating between primary and secondary oral epithelial dysplasia and lichenoid mucositis
  • Oral cancer control research in smokers and non-smokers
  • Enhancing students' oral mucosal screening skills through the integration of live patients and video within an oral medicine and pathology course
  • Malignant progression of oral lichenoid dysplasia
  • Can Toluidine Blue uptake predict malignant progression of low grade oral lesions
  • Can Clinicopathological Features of Low-Grade Oral Dysplasia with High-Risk Molecular Patterns Predict Malignant Progression?
  • The development of a risk model to predict the malignant transformation of low-grade premalignant lesions