Ben Wu, DDS, PhD
Dr. Ben Wu is Professor and Chair of the Division of Advanced Prosthodontics, and the Director of the Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology at the School of Dentistry. He also chairs the Department of Bioengineering at the School of Engineering.
Dr. Wu provides multidisciplinary patient care in the UCLA Faculty Group Dental Practice, where he focuses on the treatment of advanced, complex oral rehabilitation using implant, fixed, and removable prosthodontics. He is a fellow of the Academy of Prosthodontics.
UCLA School of Dentistry
10833 Le Conte Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1668
Phone: (310) 825-6215
Education and Professional Background:
- 1998, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- 1995, Residency, Harvard School of Dental Medicine
(Specialty Certificate in Prosthodontics)
- 1987, DDS, University of the Pacific
He joined the UCLA School of Engineering in 2000 and holds formal academic appointments in the Department of Bioengineering in the School of Engineering, Division of Advanced Prosthodontics in the School of Dentistry, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and the Department of Orthopedic Surgery in School of Medicine.
Research & Activities:
Dr. Wu is internationally recognized for his cutting-edge research in the formation of biomimetic apatites, development of bioinspired growth factors, and engineering of biomimetic microenvironment to deliver cells, proteins, and genes to promote repair and regeneration of hard and soft tissues. Dr. Wu has been highly prolific throughout his entire career (over 120 original research articles, 9 issued patents with more pending) and has been continuously funded by federal research grants. Professor Wu’s research group has extensively analyzed the effects of processing parameters on the formation of biomimetic apatites, and his fundamental understanding has led to applications in the areas of art conservation, drug delivery, separations, and biosensors. His research group has also shed light on the interplay between orthobiologic growth factors and adult stem cells in the area of bone repair. His experimental skills are complemented by insightful mathematical modeling of complex, moving boundary diffusion-reaction problems that have led to key design criteria for tissue engineering, material degradation, and cancer survival mechanisms. His work has impacted clinical disciplines ranging from Orthopedics, Interventional Radiology, Urology, Pediatric Surgery, Orthodontics, and Dentistry.
Biomimetic apatites – materials development, biological function, and mechanism
Dr. Wu and his team have been extensively investigating the natural formation of a biological apatite during bone wound healing and developed a materials processing strategy to mimic this natural interface and confer uniform, bioactive apatite coating throughout the pores of complex three dimensional scaffolds. By controlling the self-assembly process, they’ve extended the classic structure-processing-property-performance paradigm by demonstrating that altering processing parameters can produce distinct apatite structures that produce influence osteoblastic gene expression and bone formation.
Orthobiologics – Discovery, Development, and Delivery
Other research activities include a multidisciplinary project, involving Nell-1, a human growth factor that is naturally expressed at the osteogenic front of a premature cranial suture fusion associated with craniosynostosis. Unlike bone morphogenetic proteins which signal non-specifically upstream of core-binding factor Cbfa1/Runx2 and are responsible for numerous clinical complications in human cervical spinal fusion, Nell-1 appears to signal downstream of Cbfa1/Runx2 and may therefore potentially yield fewer complications. Dr. Wu and his team have developed a scalable process to manufacture this novel growth factor, and develop practical methods to effectively deliver the protein for bone and cartilage repair.
3D Mass Transport, cell-cell interactions
In 3D, mass transport limitations of nutrients and waste products remain a major obstacle to the survival, proliferation, and differentiation of the stem cells in large clinical size defects. Dr. Wu and his team previously showed experimentally and theoretically that controlling spatial distribution of cells can impact cell proliferation in 3D based on oxygen transport limitation and heterogeneous consumption. They subsequently showed theoretically and confirmed experimentally that acidosis is actually the most serious consequence. They recently expanded this understanding to the 3D hypoxic effects on increased drug resistance by cancer cells. Their in-vitro 3D models acquired higher apoptosis resistance via up-regulation of anti-apoptotic proteins, and that the precise mechanism depends on each 3D microenvironment. Based on these preliminary findings, the 3D/3D model offers the critical features of 3D cell-cell adhesion, and mass-transport limitation that cannot be easily replicated by 2D models.