Professional background

Professor McGurk undertook his undergraduate BDS degree at Sheffield University in 1976. This was followed by three years of junior surgical posts in oral and maxillofacial a six month period visiting maxillofacial units in the United States.

He returned to Sheffield to complete a medical degree in 1984. He held a lecturer post at Manchester University and was awarded a DLO and an MD during this period. He was appointed consultant oral and maxillofacial surgeon to Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham in 1991, and in 1992, professor of oral and maxillofacial surgery at the King’s College London - Guy’s and Thomas’ Hospitals Foundation Trust. He moved to University College Hospital in September 2016.

Professor McGurk’s clinical practice has centred on head and neck cancer surgery and minimally invasive management of salivary gland disease as has his research themes.

He has championed minimally invasive surgery for benign parotid tumours and obstructive salivary gland disorders. This has revolutionised the treatment of salivary gland disease and it is now no longer necessary to routinely remove salivary glands for benign disease. This minimally invasive service is avaiable at UCL (

Professor McGurk has also led a European trial in sentinel node biopsy (SNB) which has led to a 75% reduction in the need for neck dissection for early mouth cancers (first in the UK). His work has changed the practice of head and neck cancer in the UK. The work on SNB has now been recognised by NICE who have advised the test should be avaiable in cancer centres around the UK. Professor McGurk has set up a national training program at UCLH to introduce SNB in UK.

Professor McGurk lectures widely at national and international conferences and runs annual master classes on salivary gland surgery in London, Paris and Erlangen for maxillofacial and ENT consultants.

He has been a board member of Dental Protection Ltd, and chairman of the High Claims Committee. He is on the board of Project Harar providing surgical missions in developing countries (

Professor McGurk has set up a charity Head & Neck Cancer Foundation (HNCF) to promote surgical research into head and neck cancer. The charity's first objective is to get SNB introduced across the UK. They are promoting the new national training programme.

He is past president of the British Association of Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons and past editor of the British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. He examines at the RCSI.

Research interests

  • Salivary gland disease
  • Head and neck cancer


Professor McGurk has published extensively ( with 200+ original articles in peer reviewed journals; Five major textbooks on cancer and salivary gland disease and contributed to eight major academic textbooks. He has been awarded BMA Medical Book Award 2013 highly commended surgical specialties.