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Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D. - VCU College of Engineering. Richmond, VA, US

Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Institute for Engineering and Medicine | B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Rice University | VCU College of Engineering


Dr. Boyan specializes in cell and tissue engineering





loading image loading image Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., the Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Jr. Dean of VCU College of Engineering. In one hand, Boyan is holding samples of material for custom-made 3D-printed implants made of a titanium alloy, including examples with a complex bio-inspired geometry similar to the model of a spine in the other hand. loading image


Barbara D.  Boyan: Approaches to an Innovative and Entrepreneurial Culture Barbara D Boyan PhD VCU School of Engineering Interview With Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D.




Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., Executive Director, Institute for Engineering and Medicine, is a nationally acclaimed researcher and entrepreneur. Her laboratory is focused on research in all aspects of bone and cartilage biology, from basic science studies on steroid hormone signaling to the use of cells for regenerative medicine strategies, focusing on how cells interact with biomaterial surfaces. Her work in the bone and cartilage field began with studies to understand the underlying mechanisms of mineralized tissue formation. Her recent research developments include novel technologies for controlling nanotexture on metal and polymer surfaces in order to study cell responses for regenerative medicine applications as well as elucidating the mechanisms used by steroid hormones like vitamin D and estrogen and microRNAs in the regulation of bone and cartilage cells.

An industry leader and proponent of improving quality of life around the world, Boyan is the co-founder of four companies:

SpherIngenics, Inc., (cell-based therapies) as Director and Chief Scientific Officer
Orthonics, Inc., (medical devices) as Chief Scientific Officer
OsteoBiologics, Inc., (tissue engineered medical products) as Chairman and CEO, Board of Directors
Biomedical Development Corporation, (innovative medical technologies) Chief Scientific Officer

Also serving on the Board of Directors for six other companies, Boyan’s influence has helped shape many scientific advancements. These companies are:

Carticept Medical, Inc., (innovative injection devices) Independent Director, Board of Directors, and Chief Scientific Officer
Cartiva, Inc. (Cartilage repair technologies) Independent Director, Board of Directors, and Chief Scientific Officer
Commonwealth Center for Advanced Logistics Systems (CCALS), Chair of the Board
IsoTis, Inc., (Bone graft material) Independent Director, Board of Directors, and Chief Scientific Officer
IsoTis SA, (Bone graft material) Independent Director, Board of Directors
ArthroCare, Inc., (Medical devices) Independent Director, Board of Directors

She was previously associate dean for research and innovation at the Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Engineering. Boyan received her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. while studying biology at Rice University, and holds many scholarly and national awards.

Industry Expertise (3)



Medical Devices

Areas of Expertise (5)

Cell and Tissue Engineering

Response of Cells to Biomaterials

Mechanisms of Action of Hormones and Growth Factors in Cartilage and Bone

Normal and Pathological Calcification

Stem Cell Delivery Technologies

Accomplishments (9)

Rice University’s Distinguished Bioengineering Alumna Award for 2017 (professional)


The award recognizes Rice alumni whose scholarship, mentorship and innovations have made significant contributions to their professions and communities.

Fellow, National Academy of Inventors (professional)



Fellow, American Institute of Mechanical and Biological Engineering


Atlanta Woman of the Year (Science)


The Birnberg Research Award, Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery


Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science


Society for Biomaterials Clemson Award for Contributions to the Literature


Albert-Hoffa-Prize (with Drs CH Lohmann, Z Schwartz, Y Liu, H Guerkov, B Simon, BD Boyan), Die Norddeutsche Orthop denvereinigung e.V (North German Orthopaedic Society) Research Prize


American Academy of Periodontolgy, R. Earl Robinson Regeneration Award (with Drs Z Schwarts, DD Dean, CH Lohmann, D Andreacchio, TC Weesner, DL Carnes, DL Cochran)

October 2001

Education (3)

Rice University: Ph.D., Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 1975

Rice University: M.A., Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 1974

Rice University: B.A., Biology 1970

Affiliations (9)

  • National Academy of Engineering (Member)
  • National Academy of Inventors (Fellow)
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (Fellow)
  • European Academy of Sciences and Arts (Fellow)
  • American Institute for Mechanical and Biological Engineering (Fellow)
  • American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (Fellow)
  • Biomaterials Science and Engineering (Fellow)
  • International Team for Implantology (Fellow)
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (Member)

Media Appearances (32)

Medicines for All: Revolutionizing the Global Supply Chain

Next  print


Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., the Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Jr. Dean of the College of Engineering, said, “With the creation of the pharmaceutical engineering Ph.D. program, VCU will be a national leader in the education of the pharmaceutical workforce of today and innovators leading future developments. The program will address the growing need for a new generation of researchers trained in cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary science who recognize the need for a team-based approach to solving challenges related to the design and manufacturing of pharmaceutical products.”

Screencapture of Next magazine cover with digital illustration of globe with medicine covering the land areas.

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Get to know Frank Gupton, founder/CEO of Medicines for All Institute at VCU

Richmond Times-Dispatch  print


“He’s a force of nature," said Barbara D. Boyan, dean of the VCU College of Engineering. And he has “changed the landscape of Richmond."

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Barbara D. Boyan column: Solving the new literacy crisis

Richmond Times-Dispatch  print


Today’s undergraduates are the most sophisticated users and consumers of technology colleges have ever seen. This is not surprising. Generation Z, those born after 1996, are digital natives. They have never known an analog world.

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Construction Milestone

Richmond Magazine  online


The 133,000-square-foot structure is set to open in time for the spring semester 2020, College of Engineering Dean Barbara Boyan said. Once it opens, the $93 million building will offer hands-on learning opportunities through a 9,000-square-foot Innovation Maker Facility with resources such as 3D printers and hand tools, research labs, computer science and biomedical engineering facilities and more.

Building under construction with workers at the top with a special beam and tree.

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VCU College of Engineering Tops Off New Engineering Research Building

VPM  radio


Dean Barbara Boyan says the school puts high-tech careers within reach of a diverse and talented group of students. “Our student body in the College of Engineering is in excess of 50% under-represented minorities and these are high quality students so they are able to get jobs very easily.”

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SWE Magazine Feature: Women Engineering Leaders in Academe 2019

Society of Women Engineers  print


Emily Allen, Ph.D., and Barbara Boyan, Ph.D., both became dean in 2013 — Dr. Allen at California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA) and Dr. Boyan, the Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Jr. Dean at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Both women took time from their busy schedules to discuss their career paths and perspectives on leadership for this year’s profile of women engineering leaders in academe.

Portrait of dean with quote:

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Virginia Business

Front doors to the future  print


The College of Engineering also is on track to grow to 2,000 students by 2020, a 39% increase over its enrollment in 2013, when Dean Barbara D. Boyan took over, outlining an aggressive agenda for growth. Boyan had three goals: “Increase the number of students, increase the research profile and increase faculty. We’ve been able to do that,” she says.

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VCU’s Master Plan

Richmond Magazine  print


“It is all designed around experiential learning and getting students’ hands on projects,” says Barbara D. Boyan, dean of VCU’s engineering college.

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VCU is meeting industry demand for IT programs

Richmond Times-Dispatch  print


Let’s not be overly concerned with where Amazon is in Virginia. Amazon HQ2’s influence — and its needs — will be too big to be confined to Northern Virginia. We in Central Virginia are ready to help all Virginia companies be the best they can be. Barbara D. Boyan.

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'There has to be a reset': Va. works with universities to ease cash flow crunch, boost manufacturing research at center in Prince George

Richmond Times-Dispatch  print


“It’s a wonderful facility,” said Barbara Boyan, dean of the VCU College of Engineering and a member of the CCAM board of directors. “No university in America today could create it from scratch.” Camelio’s role represents “an unusual situation,” said VCU’s Boyan, who understands the state’s desire for a stepped-up presence at the center by research universities. “They want people — they want boots on the ground,” she said. However, Boyan said it’s not easy to recruit an “eminent scholar” in high-demand research who is willing to be based far from a university’s main campus. “Faculty love to collaborate, but they belong to an institution,” she said. “They want to be physically at the institution because that’s where the students are.” Her suggestion is a stepped-up presence of university professors and students at CCAM during summer, outside of the academic year. “If the professor is actively involved with her or her students, that’s the best solution,” Boyan said.

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VCU steps up in state push for research collaboration with eye for commerce

Richmond Times-Dispatch  print


“VCU will have a very major role in that,” said Dr. Barbara D. Boyan, dean of the VCU College of Engineering and the Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Jr. endowed chair. “We’re moving to be one of the universities” in the CyberX network. “These people are all going to come together and the state will benefit,” predicted Boyan, a biochemist who specializes in cell and tissue engineering. Boyan also is chair of the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Logistics Systems, based in Colonial Heights. The Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund, administered by CIT at its headquarters in Herndon, also issued a $100,000 grant to Boyan to further develop commercial uses for a “click hydrogel” she pioneered previously at Georgia Tech to close the cranial sutures in infant skulls at a measured rate that allows their brains to grow. For Boyan, GO Virginia is an essential partner to the Virginia Research Investment Committee in creating the economic conditions for taking technology research into commercial markets so it remains in Virginia, rather than benefiting companies out of state. “GO Virginia is really about infrastructure in the community,” the engineering dean said. “VRIC is infrastructure in the university. You can’t do one without the other.”

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VCU breaks ground on new engineering research building

Richmond Times-Dispatch  print


“The college was established as a public-private partnership with a mandate to educate engineers who will fuel economic development in the region,” said Barbara Boyan, the dean of the College of Engineering. “The ERB reflects our commitment to meeting this goal.”

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Muscle Allograft Speeds Muscle Recovery, Regeneration?

Orthopedics This Week  online


Researchers have compared decellularized muscle matrix (DMM) to an autologous muscle graft and found that DMM enhanced muscle function recovery, muscle regeneration, and the formation of new neuromuscular junctions. The article, “Decellularized Muscle Supports New Muscle Fibers and Improves Function Following Volumetric Injury,” appears in the March 27, 2018 edition of Tissue Engineering Part A. Co-author Barbara Boyan, Ph.D., dean of the College of Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and Georgia Institute of Technology, told OTW, “There are a number of things that make this study special. First, it represents a collaboration between a tissue bank, the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, and scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University. The grafts were designed to the specifications of a surgeon panel, which recommended that the graft be suturable and full length.”

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Study shows advantages of using decellularized muscle to promote tissue regeneration

News Medical  online


The article entitled "Decellularized Muscle Supports New Muscle Fibers and Improves Function Following Volumetric Injury" was coauthored by Barbara Boyan, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Richmond and Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta and colleagues from VCU and Musculoskeletal Transplant. Foundation, Edison, NJ and University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

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VCU’s School of Engineering Becomes College of Engineering



“Since 2013, our faculty numbers have doubled, and our extramural research funding has quadrupled,” said Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Chair and dean of the VCU College of Engineering. “Becoming the VCU College of Engineering recognizes the rapid growth during the last five years and positions us to continue our forward trajectory.”

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Two Data Presentations Highlight the Unique Potential of Spineology's Duo™ Implant

Business Wire  online


Barbara Boyan, Ph.D., Dean of Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University, presented the results of an in vitro cell culture model used to assess whether the Duo implant’s polyethylene terephthalate (PET) mesh would have an impact on migration of osteoprogenitor cells from vertebral endplates onto bone graft in interbody fusion, and to assess the biological response of these cells to the bone graft.

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Women Building Bio Highlighted STEM Achievements, Research Initiatives and Next Generation Inspiration for the Regional Life Sciences Community

Business Wire  online


Virginia Bio, the statewide non-profit association representing the life science industry in the Commonwealth of Virginia, hosted a successful second annual Women Building Bio: The XX Factor conference. This year’s conference identified regional female leaders in the bioscience fields, reflected on innovative research that is changing the industry and provided opportunities for professional development and mentorship amongst all members of the community. Hosted on September 26 at the Inova Center for Personalized Health, Women Building Bio: The XX Factor converged nearly 250 attendees from across the industry to discuss a wide range of topics such as personalizing medicine to focus on individual patients, fostering lifelong mentorship, establishing public policies for health and encouraging the next generation of women to take on leadership roles. The event also placed an emphasis on networking to develop relationships formed around common interests and ambitions. “XX Factor is an inspirational event that recognizes the achievements of women in bioscience as well as highlights new and exciting research initiatives coming out of Virginia, DC, and Maryland,” said Barbara Boyan, Dean, School of Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University. “We are excited to see members from the community come together, network and collaborate in order to continue pushing the region forward.”

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More women are seeking STEM-related degrees at VCU, university says

Commonwealth Times  print


“We have excelled at recruiting women into all aspects of engineering,” said Barbara Boyan, Dean of VCU’s School of Engineering. “The number of women in STEM fields has been on a consistent growth curve since I joined VCU in 2013.”

Commonwealth Times Engineering

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VCU virtual reality lab opens to awe of crowd

Richmond Times-Dispatch  print


“This is where things are going in the 21st century,” said Barbara Boyan, the dean of the School of Engineering. “Now we’re going to actually have a laboratory that lets us develop these things and work with them as they grow.”

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VCU receives historic $25 million grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Commonwealth Times  print


Barbara D. Boyan, Dean of the VCU School of Engineering, thanked the Gate’s Foundation for their gracious donation. “To be able to work on projects that are not only scientifically interesting, but also critically important for global health, is an incredible opportunity for our students and for the economic development of Richmond.”

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VCU awarded $25M grant, launches online MBA

Richmond BizSense  online


The institute is led by Frank Gupton, professor and chairman of the school’s department of chemical and life science engineering. Gupton was among several speakers at Thursday’s announcement, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe, VCU President Michael Rao and Barbara Boyan, dean of the school.

Richmond BizSense

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VCU receives $25M grant from Gates - VCU receives $25 million from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to establish new institute, increase access to medicineHide Details

Richmond Times Dispatch  print


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering $25 million to create the Medicines for All Institute, a program that will seek ways to make life-saving medications less costly and more available worldwide. The grant - which is the largest the university has ever received from a private entity - was announced Thursday at an event held at the Biotechnology Research Park's Biotech Eight building on North Fifth Street, where the institute has set up a 30,000-square-foot space. Frank Gupton - chair of the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering at the School of Engineering - will lead the institute as it seeks ways to make medications to treat HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases more accessible by reducing the manufacturing cost. "These are medicines for the most part that are either in the forms of generics or would-be generics," said Barbara D. Boyan, dean of the School of Engineering. "The costs of these medicines has not risen to a great extent, but to many people in the world they're still too expensive and just too difficult to have access to."

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VCU “Medicines for All” Project Receives $25 Million from Gates Foundation

Virginia Public Radio  radio


Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond has received the largest private grant in history: 25 million dollars from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The money will support the school’s “Medicines for All” research. Virginia’s Governor was on hand at the announcement. Mallory Noe-Payne reports.

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VCU Engineering Receives $25M Gates Foundation Grant

Virginiabio  online


The Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering has been awarded a $25 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to establish the Medicines for All Institute and to fund the institute’s work on a wide range of essential global health treatments. With this grant, the institute can help increase access to lifesaving medications for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases around the world. B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D., the Floyd D. Gottwald Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering in the VCU School of Engineering, will continue to lead and serve as principal investigator for Medicines for All. Over the past four years, the Gates Foundation has awarded nearly $15 million to Medicines for All. During this time and with this support, Medicines for All has developed an innovative model that reduces the cost of manufacturing AIDS treatments such as nevirapine by accelerating the creation of more efficient ways of synthesizing the active ingredients in the medications. The institute has also worked closely with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and other implementation partners to transfer the new processes to manufacturers so that more medications can reach communities in need. "The gift from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is an important recognition of the groundbreaking work being performed by Dr. Gupton and his team,” said Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., Alice T. and William H. Goodwin Chair and Dean of the VCU School of Engineering. “To be able to work on projects that are not only scientifically interesting, but also critically important for global health, is an incredible opportunity for our students and for the economic development of Richmond.”

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Engineering the workforce

Virginia Business  print


VCU awarded 289 bachelor’s degrees in engineering during the 2016-17 academic year. Most of those degrees were in mechanical engineering, but computer engineering and computer science saw the biggest jump from the previous year (46 percent each). Dean Barbara Boyan attributes this type of growth to a climbing demand for talent in the technology field. “We can’t mint these students fast enough,” she says. VCU awarded 289 bachelor’s degrees in engineering during the 2016-17 academic year. Most of those degrees were in mechanical engineering, but computer engineering and computer science saw the biggest jump from the previous year (46 percent each). Dean Barbara Boyan attributes this type of growth to a climbing demand for talent in the technology field. “We can’t mint these students fast enough,” she says.

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Making the Leap from Professor to Dean

Georgia Tech News  online


“I have been lucky to have been able to assemble an outstanding leadership team,” says Barbara Boyan, who became dean of engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2013. “Watching [former CoE Dean] Don Giddens and Gary May as role models, I learned to trust my team.” Boyan (left) spent over a decade at CoE, and she ended her tenure there as associate dean for research and innovation. While at Georgia Tech, she helped spearhead the Institute’s relationship with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and she directed the Translational Research Institute for Bioengineering and Science (which led to the creation of the master’s program in biomedical innovation and development). “The leadership team empowers faculty and staff at all levels to be the best that they can be,” she says.

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Titan Spine's new medical devices could set it apart

Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel  print


The day after his first call to Barbara Boyan, Kevin Gemas was on a plane to meet her in Atlanta. Gemas’ company, Mequon-based Titan Spine, was selling titanium medical devices used in back surgery to shore up injured or deteriorating vertebrae. The devices seemed to work better than the plastic materials that were commonly used for spinal fusions at the time, but Gemas and his Titan Spine co-founder, Neenah spine surgeon Peter Ullrich Jr., didn’t know why. Boyan did. A cell biologist at Emory University, she had spent decades studying how bones heal. “There is more here than meets the eye, and more than you guys probably realize,” she said at the time ....

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The STEM effect

Virginia Business  


“We can’t train them fast enough,” says Barbara D. Boyan, dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Engineering, whose undergraduate enrollment has grown 24 percent in the past four years. “There are way more jobs than there are students that we are graduating. … All of the engineering schools are ramping up for this. It’s been an amazing explosion; we all feel the excitement of it but we also feel the pressure of it.”...

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Researchers identify unexpected functions in the determination of height for a gene expressed in sperm

Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News  online


That was when Strauss enlisted help from Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Engineering. Boyan specializes in musculoskeletal biology. "Researchers from Strauss' lab could see that a problem had occurred, but there are many techniques that we use in biomedical engineering that let us narrow in on what the defect is," Boyan said. Researchers at her lab analyzed the shapes of the bones and the way they developed in the embryos. They also did cell culture studies in which they isolated cells from the defective animals to see if the defect in limb length was due to a fundamental alteration in their ability to form bone...

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Spinal implant material matters: What titanium can do for you (and your patients)

Becker's Spine Review  print


Dr. Slosar reported on a study conducted by Barbara Boyan, PhD, Dean of the School of Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University, comparing Titan Spine's titanium implants with PEEK implants and found the titanium implants can stimulate stem cells to behave differently by promoting bone formation instead of creating inflammation and fibrosis. "Through this research, we are able to better understand how implant surface properties influence specific inflammatory micro-environment factors," said Dr. Boyan. "We found that the titanium alloy surface with a complex micron scale and submicron scale roughness promotes a cellular response that favors bone formation. Conversely, PEEK created an inflammation response that will more likely lead to fibrous tissue formation."

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New technology may boost bone growth response for spinal fusion

Medical Express  


"This means that by modifying titanium alloy surfaces to stimulate bone cells to produce these important factors, surgeons may be able to improve the performance of spine cages and, as a result, quality of care for their patients," said Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., dean of the VCU School of Engineering, who led the study...

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Medical Devices Fall Short for Children

The New York Times  


“Children have growth spurts. Their immune systems and hormones are changing,” said Barbara D. Boyan, the dean of the engineering school at Virginia Commonwealth University. “You need to be able to adapt to different ages, different stages of development.”...

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Selected Articles (5)

Change in Surface Roughness by Dynamic Shape-Memory Acrylate Networks Enhances Osteoblast Differentiation


2016 Microscale surface roughness has been shown to enhance osseointegration of titanium implants through increased osteoblast differentiation while osteoblast proliferation remains greater on smooth titanium. Taking advantage of these phenomena, we ...

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Implant osseointegration and the role of microroughness and nanostructures: lessons for spine implants

Acta Biomaterialia

2014 The use of spinal implants for spine fusion has been steadily increasing to avoid the risks of complications and donor site morbidity involved when using autologous bone. A variety of fusion cages are clinically available, with different shapes and chemical ...

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A review on the wettability of dental implant surfaces II: biological and clinical aspects

Acta Biomaterialia

2014 Dental and orthopedic implants have been under continuous advancement to improve their interactions with bone and ensure a successful outcome for patients. Surface characteristics such as surface topography and surface chemistry can serve as design ...

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The roles of titanium surface micro/nanotopography and wettability on the differential response of human osteoblast lineage cells

Acta Biomaterialia

2013 Surface micro-and nanostructural modifications of dental and orthopedic implants have shown promising in vitro, in vivo and clinical results. Surface wettability has also been suggested to play an important role in osteoblast differentiation and osseointegration. ...

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A review of polyvinyl alcohol and its uses in cartilage and orthopedic applications

Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part B: Applied Biomaterials

2012 Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is a synthetic polymer derived from polyvinyl acetate through partial or full hydroxylation. PVA is commonly used in medical devices due to its low protein adsorption characteristics, biocompatibility, high water solubility, and chemical ...

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