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Faculty Spotlight

​Dr. David Dean

From the start of his academic career, David Dean’s research has focused on improving medical procedures and devices. His PhD thesis presented a novel, template-based method for the production of average 3D surface images of organs such as the skull. His postdoctoral research with Dr. Court Cutting at the Institute of Reconstructive and Plastic Surgery (New York University) used average skull images as targets for surgical simulation and intra-operative guidance. In July 1994, Dr. Dean joined Case Western Reserve University where he began using average skull images to design and fabricate cranial plates in the Department of Neurological Surgery. Indeed, Dr. Dean was the first person to use an anatomical template to design and 3D print a patient-specific cranial implant. That device was implanted by his Chair, Dr. Robert Ratcheson. Subsequently, Drs. Dean and Ratcheson founded Osteoplastics, Inc. to provide what are now standard-of-care methods for producing patient-specific cranial implants to the larger clinical community.

Dr. Dean’s career has since grown with the field of regenerative medicine to include research into biomaterials, skeletal progenitor cells, and the elusive search for a bone tissue engineering (i.e., bone substitute) strategy. He is also now leading novel research into the 4D printing (i.e., design of 3D printed part shape and function) of two biometals. The first is 3D printing of stiffness-matched, NiTi skeletal devices. The second is Mg alloys for resorbable skeletal reconstruction devices. These two technologies portend significant improvements in reconstructive skeletal surgery and joint replacement (e.g., hip, knee, and spine) outcomes.
Link to laboratory website:

David Dean, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Plastic Surgery
The Ohio State University