Internationally recognized biomedical engineer joins UCLA School of Dentistry faculty

Posted on: Tuesday, 08/07/2012

The UCLA School of Dentistry welcomed new faculty member, Dr. Dean Ho, to their team of world-renowned dentist-scientists and oral health researchers, effective July 1, 2012. Ho was appointed to professor in the Division of Oral Biology and Medicine and the Division of Advanced Prosthodontics, Biomaterials and Hospital Dentistry at the School of Dentistry. Dr. Ho also was appointed the co-director of the Jane and Jerry Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology – a research center at the School.

In his role, Ho will help lead the School of Dentistry in building its biomaterials science and bioengineering Center of Excellence. His expertise in nanomedicine and the application of diamond-based platforms for therapeutic drug delivery and imaging will serve as a foundation for the translational research efforts in the field of biomedical engineering at the School of Dentistry. The broad applications of his nanomaterial platforms also will catalyze collaborative initiatives with several other schools of the UCLA research community.

Ho leads an internationally-recognized team focused on the development of nanodiamond platforms for drug delivery and imaging. His research group has developed multiple approaches for improving therapeutic efficiency and safety using the nanodiamond vehicle. Applications have included gene delivery, therapeutic protein release for potential wound healing use, and most notably, cancer therapy. Ho’s research achievements have been covered on the homepages of CNN and NPR and, most recently on the cover of Science Translational Medicine.

“With Dr. Ho’s expertise in biomedical engineering and nanomedicine, the UCLA School of Dentistry has positioned itself to be a leader in the research and development of drug therapies regenerative tissue growth, stem cells and nanotechnology,” says Dean No-He Park. “Dr. Ho will not only be a valuable asset to the School of Dentistry and the UCLA campus but also to the field of health sciences.”

Ho holds both a doctorate and a master’s degree in biomedical engineering, and a bachelor’s degree in physiological sciences, all from UCLA. After receiving his PhD, Ho became a research associate at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in the Department of Bioengineering and Electrical Engineering as well as a postdoctoral research fellow at the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA.

Before coming to the School of Dentistry, Ho was an associate professor in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering in the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern University. He also has held a visiting professor appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Peking University in Beijing.

“The research work currently being done at the School of Dentistry is cutting edge and I hope to combine this and my background in biomedical engineering and drug delivery systems to making advancements in cancer treatment and diagnosis,” says Ho.

Ho has given several lectures at numerous conferences around the world on his work and has authored more than 100 publications, an impressive amount for a person his age. He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation Translational Research Award (Phase I and II), the John G. Bollinger Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award from the UCLA School of Engineering and Applied Science. Most recently, Ho was awarded an Endowed Fellowship by the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening to establish a research program that aims to develop new drugs and cancer therapies.

Ho also has appeared on the National Geographic Channel program Known Universe which aired domestically and internationally, and is currently editor-in-chief of the Journal of Laboratory Automation.