Find Faculty Members at MUSC.

Ozlem Yilmaz DDS, PhD


Provider Image
  • Professor
  • College of Dental Medicine
  • Department of Biomedical & Community Health Sciences
Academic Focus
  • Microbe-Host Interaction
  • Periodontal Diseases and Bacterial Pathogenesis
  • Oral and Chronic Systemic Diseases Association
Faculty email addresses should not be used to seek medical advice or to make medical appointments. Please visit MyChart for medical appointments or to contact your provider.


Office Location


Click Below for Dr. Yilmaz' Lab Website:


Özlem Yilmaz, DDS, PhD

Chair and Professor 

Department of Oral Health Sciences



Ph.D., University of Washington

D.D.S., Istanbul University


Professional Experience:

2016-pres:  Professor, Medical University of South Carolina

2016-pres:  Joint Professor, Microbiology and Immunology

2010–2015: Associate Professor, University of Florida, Periodontology and Oral Biology

2010-2015:  Resident Member of Emerging Pathogens Institute, University of Florida

2006-2010:  Assistant Professor, University of Florida, Periodontology and Oral Biology

2002-2006:  Post-Doctoral Senior Fellow, University of Washington, School of Public 

                    Health & Community Medicine

2003:           Visiting Scholar, Biologie Moléculaire du Géne, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France


Honors and Professional Activities (Selected)

2023-pres:   Fellow, Pierre Fauchard Academy

2022-pres:   Member, Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society 

2017-pres:   Overseas Fellow, The Royal Society of Medicine, England

2014-2015:   University of Florida Research Foundation Professor

2013-2019:   Member of NIH Oral, Dental and Craniofacial Diseases (ODCS) Study Panel

2013-2015:   Fellow, Academy of Research Excellence, Clinical Translational Institute

                     University of Florida, College of Medicine

2012-pres:   Fellow, Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine

                     (ELAM), Drexel College of Medicine, Drexel University   

2012-pres:   Academic Editor, PLOS ONE

2013-pres:   Associate Editor, Molecular Oral Microbiology

2015:           Guest Editor, Microbes and Infection 

                     (Special Issue: Oral Pathogens and Microbiome in Health and Disease)

2017-pres:   Associate Editor, Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 

2018-pres:   Editorial board, Journal of Oral Microbiology

2018-pres:   Editorial Board, Scientific Reports

2018 / 2023Invited Guest Editor, mBio

2020-pres:   Editorial Board, Current Research in Microbial Sciences


Main Research Interests

Dr. Yilmaz' research focuses on opportunistic bacteria and host interaction. Dr. Yilmaz' lab research is dedicated to discovering the complex molecular interplay between host and periodontopathic bacteria in the induction of microbial dysbiosis and pathophysiology in oral mucosa. Chronic infection by P. gingivalis, a major invasive bacterium, can specifically contribute to a series of severe chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and orodigestive cancers. Investigating the cellular persistence of this pathogen within host can lead to development of rational treatment strategies for P. gingivalis associated diseases.


Selected Publications


Patel S, Howard D, Chowdhury N, Derieux C, Wellslager B, Yilmaz O, and French L (2021) "Characterization of human genes modulated by Porphyromonas gingivalis highlights the ribosome, hypothalamus, and cholinergic neurons” Frontiers in Immunology, 12:646259. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2021.646259


Lee, JS, Yilmaz, O (2020) “Key Elements of Gingival Epithelial Homeostasis upon Bacterial Interaction”, Invited Review, Critical Reviews in Oral Biology & Medicine Section, J of Dental Res, Nov 17;22034520973012. doi: 10.1177/0022034520973012.


 Lee, JS, Chowdhury N, Roberts, JS, and Yilmaz O (2020). Host surface ectonucleotidase-CD73 and the opportunistic pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis, cross-modulation underlies a new homeostatic mechanism for chronic bacterial survival in human epithelial cells. Virulence. 11:414-429.


 Lee J, Spooner R, Chowdhury N, Pandey V, Wellslager B, Atanasova K, Evans Z, Yilmaz O (2020). In Situ Intraepithelial Localizations of Opportunistic Pathogens, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Filifactor alocis, in Human Gingiva. Current Research in Microbial Sciences. 1, 7-17. 10.1016/j.crmicr.2020.05.001.


Olsen I and Yilmaz O (2019). Possible role of Porphyromonas gingivalis in orodigestive cancers. J Oral Microbiol. Jan 9;11(1):1563410. doi: 10.1080/20002297.2018.1563410. eCollection 2019.


Lee K, Roberts JS, Choi C, Atanasova KR, Yilmaz O (2018) Porphyromonas gingivalis Traffics into Endoplasmic Reticulum-Rich-Autophagosomes for Successful Survival in Human Gingival Epithelial Cells, Virulence  April 4:126.doi:10.1080/21505594.2018.1454171


Lee J, Roberts JS, Atanasova KR, Chowdhury N and Yilmaz O (2018) A Novel Kinase Function of a Nucleoside-diphosphate-kinase Homolog in P.  gingivalis is Critical in Subversion of Host Cell Apoptosis by Targeting Heat-Shock Protein 27,Cellular Microbiology, Jan 22.doi:10.1111/cmi.12825


Lee JS, Yilmaz O (2018) Unfolding Role of a Danger Molecule Adenosine Signaling in Modulation of Infection and Host Cell Response. Invited Review, Special Issue: Purinergic Signalling in Cancer and Inflammation, Int. J. Mol. Sci. 19(1), 199; doi:10.3390/ijms19010199.


Lee J, Roberts JS, Atanasova KR, Han K, Chowdhury N, and Yilmaz O (2017) Human Primary Epithelial Cells Acquire an Epithelial-Mesenchymal-Transition Phenotype during Long-term Infection by the Oral Opportunistic Pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiol.  Dec 1;7:493. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2017.00493.


Roberts JS, Atanasova KR, Lee J, Diamond G, Deguzman JV, Choi CH, and Yilmaz O (2017), “Opportunistic Pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis Modulates Danger Signal ATP-mediated Antibacterial NOX2 Pathways in Primary Epithelial Cells”. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiol 2017 Jul 4;7:291. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2017.00291. 


Spooner R, Weigel K, Harrison PL, Lee KL, Cangelosi G, and Yilmaz O (2016) In situ Anabolic Activity of Periodontal Pathogens Porphyromonas gingivalis And Filifactor alocis In Chronic Periodontitis. Scientific Reports 6, 33638; doi: 10.1038/srep33638.


Atanasova K, Lee J, Roberts J, Lee K , David M Ojcius, Yilmaz O (2016) Nucleoside-Diphosphate-Kinase of P. gingivalis is Secreted from Epithelial Cells In the Absence of a Leader Sequence Through a Pannexin-1 Interactome, Scientific Reports, 6, 37643; doi:10.1038/srep37643


Selected Book Chapter and Editorial


 Yilmaz O, Ojcius DM (2015) "A new frontier: oral microbes without borders." Microbes & Infection, Editorial, Jul;17(7):469-70.


 Yilmaz O (2011) Chapter “Interactions of Porphyromonas gingivalis with Human Gingival Epithelium” in “Oral Microbial Communities: Genomic Inquiry and Interspecies Communication” Chapter 14, 207-219, Edited by Paul E Kolenbrander, American Society of Microbiology.