Dr. Drake joined the University of Iowa College of Dentistry in 1988. He is a professor of microbiology in the Department of Endodontics and the Dows Institute for Dental Research. Dr. Drake is the director of research for the Department of Endodontics. He is a past-president of the University of Iowa Faculty Senate and is now senior associate to UI President Sally Mason.
Dr. Drake's teaching responsibilities include oral microbiology and immunology and clinical research design at the graduate level.
Dr. Drake's current research interests are focused on transmission of specific genotypes of Streptococcus mutans (SM) from mother to child in different populations. His current R01 study is looking at acquisition of SM in American Indian children from birth to three years of age. He is conducting this study in partnership with the Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Dr. Drake has a field team consisting of dental hygienists and research assistants on site who collect plaque samples from mothers, primary caregivers, and the children. In addition, a comprehensive approach to obtain dietary and behavioral data, as well as oral health (caries assessment) is being done. The plaque samples are shipped via Federal Express to his laboratories here at the University of Iowa, where he and his research team are performing analyses on the microflora isolated from the clinical samples, with a focus on DNA fingerprinting of SM isolates. He is also involved in the R01 research on oral antimicrobial lipids led by Dr. Philip Wertz (PI) and in collaboration with Drs. Kim Brogden and Deborah Dawson.
Dr. Drake is a new permanent member of the Oral, Dental, and Craniofacial Sciences (ODCS) Study Section at NIH. He is a current member of the American and International Associations for Dental Research, the American Society for Microbiology, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.