Dean Boyan receives North American Spine Society award

Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D.
Photo by Brandon Ranly

Barbara D. Boyan, Ph.D., the Alice T. and William H. Goodwin, Jr. Dean of the VCU College of Engineering, has been awarded the 2020 Henry Farfan Award from the North American Spine Society (NASS) for outstanding contributions in spine related basic science research.

Boyan received this honor for her research in understanding the interactions between spine implant materials, surfaces and bone physiology. Her work has helped surgeons to understand bone biology as related to interbody fusions such as bone graft substitutes and metal cages.

NASS, a global multidisciplinary medical organization dedicated to spine care, named the award after a founding member who contributed to the field of spinal disorder management. It is used to signify achievement over one’s professional life.

Boyan was nominated for the award by Paul J. Slosar, M.D., and Gunnar Andersson, M.D., Ph.D., retired professor and chairman emeritus of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois.

Slosar, president of SpineCare Medical Group in Daly City, California, is a surgeon who specializes exclusively in spinal care. He said, “I nominated Dr. Boyan because she has an amazing talent for working in harmony with surgeons to find solutions that have clinical relevance, yet require strong scientific research in order to both improve patient outcomes and change surgeon behavior.

“Her research is tangible to us surgeons and our patients, and it is remarkable to see such direct results. The caliber and volume of research coming from her lab is among the top in the world.”

Boyan’s laboratory focuses on research in all aspects of bone and cartilage biology, from basic science studies on steroid hormone signaling to advanced manufacturing for the use of cells in regenerative medicine strategies.

Boyan, who holds 23 U.S. patents and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and the European Academy of Sciences and Art, has been able to convert her knowledge in basic science to inventions that are used clinically worldwide.