Maxillofacial Bone Regeneration

Our lab aims to develop regenerative therapies targeting regeneration of bone defects. We adopt cell-based and cell-free strategies across the spectrum from basic lab studies to pre-clinical and clinical trials with a focus on regeneration of bone, cartilage and blood vessels.

We are a young group working on bone regeneration of the facial structures. Patients with maxillofacial bone defects need bone tissue substitutes to reshape their face, to speak and to anchor teeth for chewing food. These bone defects may arise from an accident, cancer, infection or due to congenital malformations. Examples of defects include cleft palate, sinus floor augmentation, alveolar augmentation or segmental mandibular defects.

Our team designs bio-inspired regenerative approaches to restore such defects. We employ stem cell technologies or biomaterials advances with state-of-the-art regenerative technologies to recapitulate natural tissue development and regeneration.

The majority of our research projects aim at two cell-based routes to bone regeneration, inspired by natural mechanisms.

1) Recapitulation of endochondral bone formation so far has proven to offer great potential for translation into clinical application. This concept is based on the implantation of an engineered (lab-grown) cartilage tissue that following implantation can be remodeled by the body into patient-own bone. A modular strategy is currently adopted where small cartilage tissues are engineered that can be glued together to generate a bone template of desired shape. Our modules are non-living, which enables scale-up, storage and off-the-shelf use. Current efforts are under the XLbone project (NWO)

2) The creation of large engineered tissue constructs requires the introduction of vasculature. These prevascularized bone constructs could be applied in large clinical defects with limited vascular supply, including e.g. mandibular defects after oncological resections or in non-unions. We have established methods to create capillary-like networks in biomaterial-based lab cultures. Also, regeneration of small diameter blood vessels is researched in our group. Current efforts are directed at the generation of multi-scale vascular networks and in vitro models.

Smaller projects in our lab are exploring the use of dental pulp stem cells and calcium phosphates to restore bone defects.





Additional info

Debby Gawlitta, PhD

Associate Professor



Kenny Man



XLbone project

Flurina Staubli

PhD student


XLbone project, endochondral bone regeneration

Jonelle Meijer

PhD student


MDR program, in vitro models for vascularization

Rui He

PhD student


CSC scholar, DPSCs, microtissue production

Tianyu Yang

PhD student


CSC scholar, cell-free regeneration

Leanne de Silva

PhD student


RESCUE Cofund, vascularization of engineered bone

Paree Khokhani

PhD student


Member of Weinans/Kruyt group, Orthopedics lab, UMC Utrecht

Nada Rahmani

PhD student


Member of Weinans/Kruyt group, Orthopedics lab, UMC Utrecht

Highlighted and recent work

Bone Regeneration in a Large Animal Model Featuring a Modular Off-the-Shelf Soft Callus Mimetic. de Silva L, Longoni A, Staubli F, Nurmohamed S, Duits A, Rosenberg AJWP, Gawlitta D. Adv Healthc Mater. 2023 Nov;12(29):e2301717. doi: 10.1002/adhm.202301717

Osteoinductive calcium phosphate with submicron topography as bone graft substitute for maxillary sinus floor augmentation: A translational study. van Dijk LA, Janssen NG, Nurmohamed SJ, Muradin MSM, Longoni A, Bakker RC, de Groot FG, de Bruijn JD, Gawlitta D, Rosenberg AJWP. Clin Oral Implants Res. 2023 Mar;34(3):177-195. doi: 10.1111/clr.14028

Special issue: Biofabrication for Orthopedic, Maxillofacial, and Dental Applications. Lim KS, Zreiqat H, Gawlitta D. Acta Biomater. 2023 Jan 15;156:1-3. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2022.12.064.

Evaluating material-driven regeneration in a tissue engineered human in vitro bone defect model. de Wildt BWM, Cramer EEA, de Silva LS, Ito K, Gawlitta D, Hofmann S. Bone. 2023 Jan;166:116597. doi: 10.1016/j.bone.2022.116597.

Biofabricating the vascular tree in engineered bone tissue. de Silva L, Bernal PN, Rosenberg A, Malda J, Levato R, Gawlitta D. Acta Biomater. 2023 Jan 15;156:250-268. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2022.08.051.

Acceleration of Bone Regeneration Induced by a Soft-Callus Mimetic Material. Longoni A, Utomo L, Robinson A, Levato R, Rosenberg AJWP, Gawlitta D. Adv Sci (Weinh). 2022 Feb;9(6):e2103284. doi: 10.1002/advs.202103284.

Former PhD students and postdocs


Past position

Additional info

Lucas van Dijk

PhD in 2022

Enhancing bone regeneration by calcium phosphates with surface topography -

A translational evaluation of synthetic bone graft substitutes

Iris Pennings


PhD in 2020

Bioengineering of pre-vascularized bone tissue analogues

NBTE Thesis award 2019-2021

Alessia Longoni

PhD in 2020

Endochondral bone regeneration: stepping stones towards clinical translation

Barbara Klotz

PhD in 2020

Engineering Gelatin-Based Biomatrices for Pre-vascularisation of Bone Analogues

Lizette Utomo

Postdoc, 2018-2020

MACRON project (mandibular condyle regeneration)

Willemijn Boot

PhD in 2018

Recent developments in diagnosis and prophylaxis of orthopaedic implant-related infections

Marianne Koolen

PhD in 2018

Building better bone

Vivian Mouser

PhD in 2017

Bio-inks for 3D printing of cartilage implants – Tailoring gelMA and polyHPMA-lac-PEG hydrogels for the fabrication of spatially organized constructs

Jetze Visser


PhD in 2015 (cum laude)


Biofabrication of implants for articular joint repair - Cartilage regeneration in reinforced gelatin-based hydrogels

NBTE Thesis award 2013-2015

Linda Kock

Postdoc, 2012-2014