Dr. Larry Hench

Grand Rounds MUHC

December 4, 2013

Larry Hench, University Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Florida Institute of Technology College of Engineering, has been awarded the highly acclaimed international 2014 Acta Biomaterialia Gold Medal Award. The award recognizes excellence in research and development in the field of biomaterials.

Professor Hench, who is also director of the Florida Tech Center for Medical Materials and Photonics, specializes in bio-ceramics and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).  Dr. Hench received his bachelor’s degree in 1961 and doctoral degree in 1964 in ceramic engineering from The Ohio State University. After 32 years on the faculty, Hench retired from the University of Florida as Emeritus Professor to join the Imperial College , University of London, as chair of ceramic materials. There, he co-founded and co-directed the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Centre for 10 years.

In 1969 Hench discovered Bioglass, the first man-made material to bond to living tissues, which is now clinically used throughout the world to repair bones, joints and teeth. Prior to this discovery, all materials used in medicine or dentistry could be tolerated by the body only by forming a non-adherent fibrous layer to isolate living tissues from the foreign material.

Discoveries made by Hench and his colleagues in the 1980s and 1990s have resulted in numerous Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approvals. In the mid-‘80s the FDA approved the use of bioactive glass devices to reconstruct the ossicular chain (part of the middle ear) and restore hearing. A subsequent FDA approval led to bioactive glass implants to replace teeth, maintain jaw stability and repair maxillo-facial bone defects. In the ‘90s the FDA approved the use of a particulate form of bioactive glass that led to regenerating new bone to repair bone defects caused by periodontal disease. Numerous FDA approved applications in orthopedic surgery include repair of bone defects following revision surgery of failed hip and knee prostheses, and spinal repair.

Dr. Hench is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and World Academy of Ceramics as well as a Fellow of the following Professional Societies: American Ceramic Society, Society of Glass Technology, and Society for Biomaterials, Institute of Materials, Mining and Metallurgy, Royal Society of Chemistry, and AIMBE. He has received an Honorary Doctorate from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.