Benjamin Wu, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Professor
Chair of the Division of Advanced Prosthodontics
Chair of the Section of Biomaterials Science
Director for UCLA Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology
Phone:
(310) 825-6215
Address:
UCLA School of Dentistry
10833 Le Conte Ave.
Box 951668
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1668
Office:  B3-087B

Biography

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 is also the former chairman of 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.

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.

Educational & Professional Background

  • D.D.S., University of the Pacific, 1987

  • Residency, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, 1995
    (Specialty Certificate in Prosthodontics)

  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1998

Research & Interests

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.

Awards

  • Fellow, Academy of Prosthodontics

  • Northrop Grumman Excellence in Teaching, UCLA School of Engineering

  • NIH Dentist Scientist Awardee

  • >30 research awards

Representative Publications

  • Hsu, CC, Chung HY, Yang JM, Shi W, Wu BM. Influence of 8-DSS Peptide on Nano-mechanical Behavior of Human Enamel. J. Dental Research 2011; 90(1):88-92

  • Chou YF, Zuk PA, Chang TL, Benhaim P, Wu BM. Adipose-derived stem cells and BMP2: Part 1. BMP2-treated adipose-derived stem cells do not improve repair of segmental femoral defects. Connect Tissue Res. 2011;52(2):109-18

  • Zuk P, Chou YF, Mussano F, Benhaim P, Wu BM. Adipose-derived stem cells and BMP2: Part 2. BMP2 may not influence the osteogenic fate of human adipose-derived stem cells. Connect Tissue Res. 2011;52(2):119-32

  • Tsang EJ, Arakawa CK, Zuk PA, Wu BM. Osteoblast Interactions Within a Biomimetic Apatite Microenvironment. Ann Biomed Eng. 2011 39(4):1186-1200

  • Ho WJ, Pham EA, Kim JW, Ng CW, Kim JH, Kamei KT, Wu BM. Incorporation of Multicellular Spheroids into Three-Dimensional Polymeric Scaffolds Provides an Improved Tumor Model for Screening Anticancer Drugs. Cancer Science 2010; 101(12):2637-43

  • Kim JW, Ho WJ, Wu BM. The role of 3D environment in hypoxia induced drug and apoptosis resistance. Anticancer Research 2011; 31(10):3237-45

  • Chung A, Hwang HS, Das D, Zuk P, McAllister DR, Wu BM. Lamellar Stack Formation and Degradative Behaviors of Hydrolytically Degraded Poly(e-caprolactone) and Poly(glycolide-e-caprolactone) Blended Fibers. J. Biomed Materials Research 2012 Jan;100(1):274-84

  • Singh S, Wu BM, Dunn JCY. Enhancing Angiogenesis Alleviates Hypoxia and Improves Engraftment of Enteric Cells in Polycaprolactone Scaffolds. J. Tissue Engineering & Regen Med (In Press)