Department of Biomaterials: Spotlight
Dr. Lukasz Witek
Lukasz Witek, MSci, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomaterials
Time Flies: Around this time last year (September 2018) we welcomed our newest faculty member, Dr. Witek, to the Department of Biomaterials. We recently had the opportunity to sit down and catch up with Dr. Witek to ask him about his experience as a faculty member in the department.
"From the day I had the opportunity to return to the Department of Biomaterials, I knew I wanted to remain as a faculty member and researcher," said Witek. He knew it would be difficult, as it is very competitive to secure an academic position, but expressed that he was excited for the challenge. Receiving the positive news from the Department Chair, Dr. John T. McDevitt, "was one of the best days of my young career, something I have been dreaming of since I was a Master’s student here in this department," said Dr. Witek, a graduate of the class of 2010.
*Students and visiting scholars
*Dr. Witek's students and visiting scholars learning new 3D printing techniques, from the common 3D printers to print one-off prototypes, to the one-of-a-kind robocasting printer for boney defect reconstruction. From left to right: Cristobal Rivera (MS Biomaterials ’19), Ernesto Benalcazar Jalkh (Visiting Scholar, Brazil), João Abreu (Visiting Scholar, Brazil), Dr. Lukasz Witek, João Paulo Bortoli (Visiting Scholar, Brazil), and Vasudev Vivekanand Nayak (MS Mechanical Engineering ’20).
Dr. Witek shared, "I am not surprised by how fast the past academic year has gone, especially when I enjoy coming to work and have a great group of students and researchers working for me and alongside me." Dr. Witek revealed that in the beginning of his new appointment there was a steep learning curve, which came with its ups and downs. He shared that he is grateful to all who have been guiding him along the way, but notes that he is most thankful for his former MSci advisor, post-doctoral mentor and role model, Dr. Paulo G. Coelho. "I have always looked up to Dr. Coelho for advice and guidance, and he has never steered me in the wrong direction." Dr. Witek expressed that in the beginning weeks of his new role, there was a transition period where it was challenging to comprehend the idea that former professors and advisors were now colleagues; he shared that at a great academic institution, staff are always learning and teaching one another.
Dr. Witek collaborates with multiple faculty within the Department of Biomaterials at NYU on several research projects and advises a small group of students on various 3D printing projects. His strength is in 3D printing, primarily for hard bone reconstruction and he contributes to a multidisciplinary team headed by Dr. Coelho, in leading the 3D printing process commonly referred to as robocasting, and also known as Solid Free-Form Fabrication (SFF), or rapid prototyping (RP).
Most recently, he and his colleague Nick Tovar DDS, PhD, published a set of manuscripts in prominent peer reviewed journals, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine (Tovar et. al. 2018) and Journal of Orthopaedic Research (Witek et. al. 2019). Currently, Dr. Witek is expanding his research efforts in two areas: (1) printing of soft material for soft tissues applications and (2) working with the visiting scholars, who are dentists exploring different materials to be used with the 3D printer and their potential applications in dentistry.
In addition to mentoring students comprised of undergraduate, graduate, dental and medical students, Dr. Witek is the course director for two of the classes in the MSci in the Biomaterials program. With the course work and students, he still manages to balance and find time to actively participate in national and international conferences/organizations. This academic year, Dr. Witek has three international invitations to be a guest speaker, beginning with his lecture at a symposium on surface chemistry and materials science this October 2019, at Malmö University in Sweden.
In addition, Dr. Witek will be presenting the group's work, "3D Printing Strategies for Extensive Craniomaxillofacial Reconstruction" at the Design of Medical Devices Conference in Shanghai, China in December 2019. For his last trip, Dr. Witek says "I will be going to see NYU's wonderful Abu Dhabi campus for the 3rd NYU Biomedical and Biosystems Conference. I am excited to see their campus and engineering facilities, as well as hopefully build new connections, which will lead to fruitful collaborations." When asked what he is looking forward to most, surprisingly his answer was not the traveling; he reports, “teaching and giving back to the students; I was awarded many opportunities along the way, and now it's my turn to be a role model to the next generation of engineers and scientists."
We here in the department were happy to learn of the work and progress going on behind the scenes, as Dr. Witek is growing into his new position. We wish him all the best in his future projects, and we look forward to our next update from him in order to learn what the lab has been working on and their continued successes. It is great to see Dr. Witek enjoying his time and making research exciting for our students. Thank you for a great year!
Dr. Witek’s most recent contributions to the Scientific community are listed below:
- Form and functional repair of long bone using 3D-printed bioactive scaffolds
Nick Tovar | Lukasz Witek | Pablo Atria | Michael Sobieraj | Michelle Bowers | Christopher D. Lopez | Bruce N. Cronstein | Paulo G. Coelho
- Repair of Critical‐Sized Long Bone Defects Using Dipyridamole‐Augmented 3D‐Printed Bioactive Ceramic Scaffolds
Lukasz Witek | Adham M. Alifarag | Nick Tovar | Christopher D. Lopez | Bruce N. Cronstein | Eduardo D. Rodriguez | Paulo G. Coelho