Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D. profile photo

Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D.

Dean, School of Engineering

Engineering West Hall, Room 331A, Richmond, VA, US

(804) 828-0190

Dean Boyan specializes in cell and tissue engineering







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Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., dean of VCU’s School 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

  • Education/Learning
  • Research
  • Medical Devices

Areas of Expertise

Cell and Tissue EngineeringResponse of Cells to BiomaterialsMechanisms of Action of Hormones and Growth Factors in Cartilage and BoneNormal and Pathological CalcificationStem Cell Delivery Technologies


Fellow, National Academy of Inventors | professional



Fellow, American Institute of Mechanical and Biological Engineering | professional


Atlanta Woman of the Year (Science) | professional


The Birnberg Research Award, Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery | professional


Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science | professional


Society for Biomaterials Clemson Award for Contributions to the Literature | professional


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 | professional


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) | professional

October 2001


Rice University

Ph.D., Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology


Rice University

M.A., Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology


Rice University

B.A., Biology



  • 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

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.”

Commonwealth Times Engineeringview more

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.”

Image for media appearances on VCU virtual reality lab opens to awe of crowdview more

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.”

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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.

Richmond BizSenseview more

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.

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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.

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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 ....

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The STEM effect

Virginia Business  


“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.”...

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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...

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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."

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New technology may boost bone growth response for spinal fusion

Medical Express  


"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...

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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.”...

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Selected Articles

Change in Surface Roughness by Dynamic Shape-Memory Acrylate Networks Enhances Osteoblast Differentiation | Biomaterials


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 ...

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Implant osseointegration and the role of microroughness and nanostructures: lessons for spine implants | Acta Biomaterialia


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 ...

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A review on the wettability of dental implant surfaces II: biological and clinical aspects | Acta Biomaterialia


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 ...

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The roles of titanium surface micro/nanotopography and wettability on the differential response of human osteoblast lineage cells | Acta Biomaterialia


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. ...

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A review of polyvinyl alcohol and its uses in cartilage and orthopedic applications | Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part B: Applied Biomaterials


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 ...

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