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New name, new direction for Dental Branch research center:

Dr. Paravina to lead Houston Center for Biomaterials and Biomimetics

Published: March 16, 2011 by Rhonda Moran, UTHealth Dental Branch

Houston Center for Biomaterials and Biomimetics leaders

Houston Center for Biomaterials and Biomimetics leaders include (from left) Founding Director John Powers, PhD; Dental Branch Interim Dean John Valenza, DDS; Acting Director Rade Paravina, DDS, PhD; UTHealth Provost and Executive Vice President for Research Peter Davies, MD, PhD; and Texas Medical Center President Richard Wainerdi, PhD. Photo by Rhonda Moran.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Dental Branch has changed the scope, leadership and name of its research center and recently celebrated those changes at a November kickoff reception.

The new Houston Center for Biomaterials and Biomimetics (HCBB) will be a hub for collaborative work – a scientific approach to mimicking methods and systems found in nature and using them to improve human health. The center was formerly known as the Houston Biomaterials Research Center.

Dental Branch Interim Dean John A. Valenza, DDS, said biomaterials will continue to be of fundamental importance, but recent advances in CAD/CAM systems, 3-D Conebeam technology and digital impression systems are transforming clinical care. “As I thought about biomaterials and where we were with our center, I realized that biomaterials are significant, but there is so much more,” he told the scientists, educators, residents and supporters who attended the reception. “It’s time for a broader scope into clinical technologies in dentistry and medicine.”

Valenza has named Rade D. Paravina, DDS, PhD, as acting director of the HCBB. Paravina is an associate professor in the Department of Restorative Dentistry and Biomaterials and an expert in color and appearance in esthetic dentistry. He has designed several dental products and tests and is the author and editor of two books, two software programs, one educational CD and more than 150 other peer-reviewed publications.

John M. Powers, PhD, was the founding director of the center, later led by S. Ray Taylor, PhD. Both remain on the Dental Branch faculty.

At a reception celebrating the HCBB’s launch, UTHealth Provost and Executive Vice President for Research Peter J.A. Davies, MD, PhD, spoke of UTHealth’s expectations for the center. “We hope the HCBB will grow to become a comprehensive center of excellence for very important research,” he said.

Research involving biomaterials and biomimetics “goes beyond the boundaries of the Dental Branch,” Davies added. “I think there’s a great opportunity to leverage the strength of the programs here with programs in other institutions in the Texas Medical Center, such as those looking at bone reconstruction and surface material technology.” As such, Valenza noted that the center’s new name does not specify ‘oral biomaterials’ for a reason. “We envision this as something that can cross into many different areas,” he said. “So I’m thrilled about this kickoff for the new center, and very appreciative to Dr. Paravina for taking the helm to move the HCBB toward much better things.”