Benjamin  M.  Wu D.D.S., Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus

UCLA School of Dentistry
10833 Le Conte Ave.
Box 951668
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1668

  • Academic Appointees
Academic Sections
  • Prosthodontics

Dr. Ben Wu is a professor emeritus, having served as Chair of the Division of Advanced Prosthodontics, Director of the Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology, and Executive Director of the Innovative Digital Dentistry Systems (iDDS) at the School of Dentistry during his tenure.  He is also the former chairman of the Department of Bioengineering at the School of Engineering.

Dr. Wu provided multidisciplinary patient care in the UCLA Faculty Group Dental Practice, where he focused 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 held 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

Prof. Ben Wu has published >260 peer-reviewed articles with >18,000 citations (, ~30 patents, and received numerous research awards for his cutting-edge research in bioengineered materials, the formation of biomimetic apatites, development of bioinspired growth factors, mathematical modeling of in vivo moving boundary diffusion-reaction problems during tissue engineering and cancer survival, and engineering of biomimetic microenvironment to deliver cells, proteins, and genes to promote repair and regeneration of hard and soft tissues. His work has impacted clinical disciplines ranging from Dentistry, Orthopedics, Radiology, Interventional Radiology, Urology, Pediatric Surgery, Ophthalmic Surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.   His current research focuses on advanced biomanufacturing of medical/dental devices for preventive diagnostics and therapeutics, biomolecular engineering of orthobiologics, development of interactive materials to control microbiome-host interactions, and incorporation of machine learning in medical decision making.     

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.

Professional Memberships
  • Fellow, Academy of Prosthodontics
  • Northrop Grumman Excellence in Teaching, UCLA School of Engineering
  • NIH Dentist Scientist Awardee