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Pictured: Qalbi Khan (right) with Phd. student Vasilis Kapralos at NIOM.

– In the past few years, it seems that NIOM’s focus has broadened to include a new range of biomaterials. Maybe because there has been an influx of new people, and new ideas. I find this exciting, says current guest researcher at NIOM, associate professor Qalbi Khan.

Khan has a background in dentistry and has done important research on the development and morphology of the teeth, outlined in his PhD-thesis, recently defended at the University of Oslo.

Now, Khan is an associate professor at the University of Tromsø (UiT), the Arctic University of Norway, teaching pre-clinical subjects to dental- and medical students.

– I haven’t practiced as a dentist for five years, he says, admitting to being fully engrossed in academia.

His project

As a student, Khan became acquainted with Simen E. Kopperud, Håkon Valen and Aida Mulic, all of whom have become researchers at NIOM.

– They have all spoken warmly of NIOM, he says.

Then last year, Håkon became interested in one of Khans ideas, and the two decided to set up a collaboration.

– We are looking into liquids as a means for plaque-removal. I am interested in combining liquids, to give a viscosity that may be suitable for removal of plaque, he explains.

A dynamic work method

Khan’s other main contact is with chemist and senior scientist Ida R. Stenhagen. After about a month, his project is already up and running.

– It’s going well. I sit with the other visiting scientists on the first floor, and really like the environment they have managed to create here. Research is a very dynamic, and it’s exciting to be involved and learn from the others, he says.

Independent institute

For Khan, NIOM’s position as an independent research institute was extra appealing.

– It’s nice to be somewhere that is independent and “neutral” in many aspects, but still big enough to challenge the status quo. It also gives an easier platform for inter-disciplinary co-operation.

However, does he have any worries, about the pandemic or the project?

– It has been hectic with research, teaching, joint applications and the new covid- routines. But I am surrounded by friendly people here and lots of support from UiT. They are all always asking me how it’s going, and if they can help me in any way. So I think it will be ok, he says.