Institute of Dentistry

People menu

Dr Pete Tomlins, BSc (Hons), PhD, CPhys, MInstP


Senior Lecturer in Dental Biometrics (non-clinical)

Room Number: Institute of Dentistry


Dr Tomlins is an academic member of staff within the Centre for Diagnostic and Oral Sciences.  He completed his undergraduate study at Lancaster University, obtaining a first class BSc (Hons) degree in Physics with Computational Physics. He joined the UK's National Physical Laboratory (NPL) as a Research Scientist in 2002 and worked in the field of fibre optic telecoms.  At NPL, he developed an interest in understanding the physics of biological material and studied part-time with Cranfield University for his PhD in Biomedical Optics.  In 2006 he was appointed as an NPL Senior Research Scientist and over the period 2007 - 2010 he led the Biophotonics group there as Lead Scientist and Technical Area Leader.  In 2009 Pete was appointed as an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Dental Biomaterials within the Dental School at Birmingham University and in August 2010 he took up his current post of Senior Lecturer at Barts and The London Dental School.

Dr Tomlins regularly presents his research at national and international meetings.  He is also a Chartered Physicist of the Institute of Physics (IoP) and member of the IoP Optical Group committee.


Research Interests:

ptomlins graphic

Dr Tomlins' research interest is in translation of new technology into clinical practice, concentrating specifically on developing quantitative methods for the objective assessment of human tissue (biometrics). He is particularly interested in understanding the interaction of light with human tissue and determining the diagnostic value of different optical parameters through the quantitative and statistical analysis of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT).  This has led to the development of a technique called Scattering Attenuation Microscopy (SAM) for the early detection of Oral Cancer, with Professor Farida Fortune, Dr Eleni Hagi-Pavli and Dr Oluyori Adegun. The main areas of my research are summarised below:

Tissue Refractive Index

The refractive index of a material carries information about its composition.  The intrinsic ability of OCT to measure optical path-lengths lends it to the measurement of tissue refractive index, the spatial, temporal and inter-sample properties of which are of particular interest.  This is important both from the perspective of fundamental tissue optics, in vivo tissue characterisation and understanding the optical manifestation of disease.

Monte Carlo Modelling of Optical Propagation in Tissue

The optical scattering properties of human tissue are important for understanding optical diagnostic techniques.  Pete uses Monte Carlo computer simulations of light transport to help quantitatively understand OCT tissue measurements and relate the detected signal pattern to underlying disease processes and biology.

Optical Tissue Phantoms

Tissue phantoms are laboratory produced artefacts, having well controlled optical properties that are designed to mimic specific characteristics of biological tissues and calibrate optical diagnostic instruments.  Pete designs, makes and uses these phantoms in his OCT based research.

Selected Publications:

Return to top