Imaging scientist at UBC Dentistry awarded grant to collaborate with German engineer


Dr. Gethin Owen, Technical Director of Electron Microscopy, Centre for High-Throughput Phenogenomics at the Faculty of Dentistry, was awarded a Collaborative Research Travel Grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. This award is to initiate or continue a biomedical science collaborative project between biological scientists and engineers.

Dr. Gethin Owen

Owen will collaborate on a project with Dr. Nicholas E Bishop, Professor for Biomechanics and Technical Mechanics, Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, Germany. Bishop is an expert in computational modelling and finite elements in engineering mechanics, specifically for biological tissues. In an existing study, funded by the S. Wah Leung Endowment Fund, Owen, an expert in 3D electron microscopy in basic research investigations for both biological and material samples, has been investigating the native structure of dentoenamel junction (DEJ) using high-resolution 3D imaging. (DEJ is the boundary between enamel and the underlying dentin of a tooth.)

Owen will use the travel grant to co-develop with Bishop a finite element model (modelling of systems in a virtual environment to understand the performance of materials under controlled conditions) from the high resolution image data generated using a dual beam microscope (focused ion beam/scanning electron microscope combined) to better understand the structure/function toughening mechanism of the DEJ. This would be the first comprehensive model of the DEJ, in its native state, using state of the art 3D imaging technology.

“This model will ultimately further enhance our knowledge as to how the DEJ structure is capable of successfully uniting dissimilar materials and can be applied as a model for the development of functionally-graded wear-resistant and impact-resistant materials,” Owen says. “Such models will be critical to the advancement of materials engineering and tissue engineering applications especially at interfaces where successful integration of dissimilar materials is the goal.”

Read more about Dr. Gethin Owen’s work in the article “Rings of Success: Imaging Scientists at the Core of the CHTP” in Impressions magazine online >>.

Visit the Centre for High-Throughput Phenogenomics website >>