Global Health Nexus, Summer 2002

Recruiting the Best

Dr. Diane Rekow

Prior to joining NYU Dentistry, Dr. Rekow had been a professor and the chairperson of the Department of Orthodontics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Dental School (UMDNJ), a member of the graduate faculty at UMDNJ, and the co-director and a graduate faculty member of the New Jersey Institute of Technology-UMDNJ Joint Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Engineering.

A multitalented, multicredentialed clinician and researcher, Dr. Rekow holds an M.S. degree in mechanical engineering, a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, and a certificate in orthodontics, all from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, and an M.B.A. from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Since 1999, she has served as the director of the Associated Institutions for Material Science (AIMS), a partnership among Princeton University, the Sarnoff Corporation, Rutgers University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Stevens Institute, and UMDNJ. The mission of AIMS is to foster and enable multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, academic-collaborative materials science research.

Dr. Rekow’s research interests focus on performance and properties of machinable brittle materials, an area in which she recently received a $5.9 million NIH grant, and on scaffolds for tissue engineering. Working with a team of physicists, engineers, materials scientists, fabrication companies, and clinicians, she designs and conducts tests to predict the long-term clinical failure of ceramic materials with the goal of establishing guidelines for improved product development. She is also developing solutions to tissue engineering problems by using a technique called “engineered porocity” in order to optimize the speed and quality of replacement bone that grows into craniofacial defects. In addition to her research, teaching, and clinical practice, Dr. Rekow publishes and lectures extensively in her multiple areas of expertise.

Dr. Van P. Thompson

Dr. Thompson comes to NYU Dentistry from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Dental School, where he served as associate dean for research, industrial relations, and faculty development and as a professor of prosthodontics and biomaterials. Dr. Thompson holds a dental degree from the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery at the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. in biology/biophysics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Dr. Thompson’s research activities focus on enhanced machinability and performance of ceramics. He is currently the principal investigator or co-investigator on three grants in this area and has five grant applications pending. The recipient of extensive public and private research funding for nearly 30 years, Dr. Thompson has published over 120 articles, books, chapters, and abstracts and has delivered over 200 lectures both in the United States and abroad. He holds a number of patents and is the creator of several audiovisual teaching aids.

Dr. Thompson predicts that in five years NYU Dentistry will be in the forefront of biomaterials and biomimetics research and will function as an international center in these areas. He is committed to building a broad-based cadre of interdisciplinary researchers and clinicians who will be able to move between relatively sophisticated procedures like tissue engineering and less complex ones like the application of a simple restorative bridge in the mouth. Using a collaborative approach, his team will seek funding in three principal areas: the design of 3D scaffolds for tissue ingrowth, unique calcium phosphate chemistries and application processes for implant coatings, and new adhesive restorative materials for the treatment of early and hidden caries.