Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., dean of VCU’s College of Engineering, is a nationally acclaimed researcher and entrepreneur. Her laboratory is focused on research related to 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. Dean Boyan’s recent research developments include novel technologies for controlling nanotexture on metal and polymer surfaces in order to study cell responses, as well as microCT imaging technologies using a contrast agent that specifically targets the vasculature.
An industry leader and major proponent of improving the quality of life around the world, Dean 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 five other companies, Dean 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
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
Previously the associate dean for research and innovation at the College of Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, she has been involved in research and education since 1974. Dean Boyan received her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. while studying biology at Rice University, and is the recipient of many scholarly and national awards. In 2012, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. A leader and member of many professional and academic organizations, she is an active proponent of collaboration and interdisciplinary studies within the university.
Industry Expertise (3)
Areas of Expertise (5)
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)
Rice University: Ph.D., Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 1975
Rice University: M.A., Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 1974
Rice University: B.A., Biology 1970
- National Academy of Engineering (Member)
- American Association for the Advancement of Science (Fellow)
- American Institute for Mechanical and Biological Engineering (Fellow)
- International Team for Implantology (Fellow)
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (Member)
Media Appearances (17)
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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."
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.
VCU Engineering Receives $25M Gates Foundation Grant
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.”
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.
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.
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 ....
The STEM effect
“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.”...
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...
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."
New technology may boost bone growth response for spinal fusion
"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...
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.”...
Selected Articles (5)
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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. ...
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 ...