Prime Minister's award for Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds

Laureate Professor Eric Reynolds AO (Melbourne Dental School, University of Melbourne) has been awarded the 2017 Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation in Australia’s Premier's Science Awards.

Video courtesy of Wildbear / Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Each year the Australian Government honours Australia’s best scientists, innovators, and science teachers through the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Science
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation
  • Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year
  • Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools
  • Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools

Professor Reynolds has been recognised for his outstanding achievement in the translation of scientific discovery into globally successful products that prevent and treat oral disease.

Oral disease is a major burden on society.

"In Australia, the economic impact of oral disease, which is largely tooth decay and gum disease, is $8 billion a year. Worldwide it's $400 billion a year," says Professor Reynolds.

"Early in my career as a young dental academic we were looking at the nutritional effects on tooth decay, and there was anecdotal and epidemiological evidence that dairy products could reduce the risk of tooth decay, but it needed a more rigorous scientific approach. So we started experiments to see if dairy products like milk and cheese could in fact lower the risk of tooth decay.

There was a unique form of calcium that was very bioavailable and it was made that way by specific proteins in milk. We could actually isolate those and then deliver those in pure form, and in concentrated form, to show that we could strengthen tooth enamel and make it more resistant to tooth decay. I was given good advice by colleagues to patent that discovery to the University of Melbourne and then we got interest from overseas companies that wanted samples to evaluate."

The remineralising technology CPP-ACP developed from a dairy protein by Professor Reynolds and his team at the Melbourne Dental School, within the University of Melbourne, is now sold globally as RecaldentTM and used by millions of people every day in chewing gum and oral health products.

Products using RecaldentTM have generated sales of over $2 billion to date, and it has been estimated they have saved over $12 billion in dental treatment costs worldwide.

"It's incredibly satisfying to look back over a career that's taken 30 years to develop to now know that millions of people are using the technology that we've been involved with," Professor Reynolds said.

Professor Reynolds continues to lead research at the Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre that is testing, improving and developing new RecaldentTM products. His team is also developing a therapeutic vaccine for the highly prevalent gum disease Chronic Periodontitis.


Read more about Professor Reynold's research in the Pursuit article, 'Brush your teeth! It could save your life', originally published on 1 June 2017.