VaranasiAssistant Professor
Biomedical Sciences
Member of the GSBS Faculty

3302 Gaston Ave.
Dallas, Texas 75246
Phone: 214-370-7006
Fax: 214-874-4538

Education and Post-Graduate Training

Postdoctoral Training, Biomaterials & Bioengineering, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) (2009)

Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, University of Florida (2004)

M.S., Chemical Engineering, University of Florida (2003)

B.S., Chemical Engineering, University of South Florida (1998)

Teaching Interests

Currently, I am involved in the development of coursework that encompasses broad areas in materials research for medical applications.  The topics of the course will integrate my background in chemical engineering and my current experiences in dental and craniofacial research.  The coursework covers the following subject areas:

  • Topics in materials science utilizing metals, ceramics, glasses, polymers, and composites used in dental practice
  • Engineering topics that include kinetics, thermodynamics, and hydrodynamics as they apply to the development of dental materials
  • Concepts in molecular and cell biology that are relevant to the development of biomaterials for tissue engineering
  • A nanotechnology course that introduces topics in emerging areas of research soon to be incorporated into dental restorations and implants.  Topics that will be covered include thin film approaches to nano-materials used in clinical practice, understanding of industrial design, and synthesis of dental materials. Additional topics in understanding nano-scale interactions between living tissues and dental materials will also be covered.

The goal of this coursework is to introduce dental students, residents, and graduate students to topics in nano-technology relating to implants, restorative materials, and biomaterials used in dentistry and medicine.  These topics will prepare clinician-scientists for emerging areas and new methods associated with nanotechnology that will improve patient care.

Research Interests

 To meet ever-changing patient needs, my laboratory is designed to develop technological advancements for discovery and clinical translation (Fig. 1).

As seen in the figure, input from clinicians is vital to the development of appropriate technology that can help meet patient needs.  To meet such needs, this laboratory is also designed to incorporate aspects of bone biology for the specific goal of improving implant design for improved bone healing.

Currently, my research focuses on the use of bioactive glasses in bone regeneration.  Bioactive glasses are silica-based materials that partially dissolve when introduced to  the physiological environment.  They release ions (Si4+, Ca2+, PO43-, Na+, K+, Mg2+, Zn2+, BO33-) that are used by bone-forming cells (osteoblasts) to synthesize mineralized tissue.  These materials form a surface hydroxyapatite layer that matches the mineral phase in bone (calcium phosphate) and promotes mineralized tissue attachment (Fig. 2). Recently we found that the ions released from these materials enhance the bone healing process by upregulating the expression of osteogenic transcription factors that are essential for the regulation of bone formation.  Our laboratory is currently exploring such aspects of the molecular and cellular biology of these ions during bone formation.  The goal of this research is to develop new bioactive glasses that promote the most essential bone-forming mechanisms for highly effective improvements in bone healing.  

In addition to understanding the significant role these ions play on osteogenesis, our laboratory also focuses on the development of new bioactive glass compositions and designs for both non-load-bearing and load-bearing implant applications.  To develop such novel materials, we utilize technology used in nano-/micro-processing (Fig. 3) to fabricate amorphous films that can target desired genetic responses from cells.                            

Plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD, Fig. 3A) is a method that controllably delivers gas phase reagents into a laminar flow reaction chamber to deposit solid thin films onto a substrate.  The PECVD method allows for the deposition of both amorphous and crystalline materials onto metal substrates, such as Ti implants.  Besides amorphous coating deposition onto Ti surfaces, we have also integrated methods that can be used to etch features into the metal or glass surface using nano-scale lithographic and reactive ion etch methods to yield nano-scale features of programmable dimensions (Fig. 3B).  One immediate application of this research is to optimize the surface feature dimensions and coating chemistry such that enhanced and long-term attachment of bone can be achieved on the implant surface.

Research Support

Ongoing Research Support
Departmental start-up funding (research initiation funds); 08/11-06/13

NIH P30 DE020742-0110; (Co-I on intramural research grant); 09/07-08/11
Baylor's Program for Bioengineering Sciences and Translational Research


NIH 1 K25 DE018230-01 (PI); $575,000; 07/07-06/12
Improving Biomaterials from a Cellular Point of View

NIH Supplement #A107380 (PI); $50,000; 10/09-09/11
Improving Biomaterials from a Cellular Point of View

Combined Nano-based Materials Sciences User Proposal (PI); 02/10-02/11

American Academy of Implant Dentistry Research Foundation (Co-I and Primary Mentor); $2500; 08/08-08/09
Student Fellow: Nicole Barkhordar
Bioactive Glasses Enhance Osteoblast Matrix Formation and Mineralization

American Academy of Implant Dentistry Research Foundation (Co-I and Primary Mentor); $2500; 08/09-08/10
Student Fellow: Timothy Bishop
Identification of Osteogenic Gene Families Enhanced by Bioactive Glass Ions

American Academy of Implant Dentistry Research Foundation (PI); $10,000; 09/10-12/10
Combinatorial Control of Osteogenesis Using Inorganic Silicon and Calcium

NCA Grant #440000 (Co-PI), $40,000; 7/1/07
University of California at San Francisco Academic Senate Shared Equipment Grant
Nikon TE2000S Motorized Microscope with Cage Incubator 

Selected Publications

Saffarian Tousi N., Velten M.F., Bishop T.J., Leong K.K., Barkhordar N.S., Marshall G.W., Loomer P.M., Aswath P.B.,Varanasi V.G. (2013).  Combinatorial effect of Si4+, Ca2+, and Mg2+ released from bioactive glasses on osteoblast osteocalcin expression and biomineralization.  Mater Sci Eng C Mater Biol Appl 33:2757-65.

Varanasi V.G., Leong K.K., Dominia L.M., Jue S.M., Loomer P.M., Marshall G.W. (2012).  Si and Ca individually and combinatorially target enhanced MC3T3-E1 subclone 4 early osteogenic marker expression.  J Oral Implant 38:325-336.

Varanasi V., Besmann T., Payzant E., Pint B., Lothian J., Anderson T. (2011).  High-growth rate YSZ thermal barrier coatings deposited by MOCVD demonstrate high thermal cycling lifetime.  Mater Sci Eng A.  Structural Materials Properties Microstructure and Processing 528:978-85.

Varanasi V.G., Owyoung J.B., Saiz E., Marshall S.J., Marshall G.W., Loomer P.M. (2011).  The ionic products of bioactive glass particle dissolution enhance periodontal ligament fibroblast osteocalcin expression and enhance early mineralized tissue development.  Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A 98A: 177-184.

Varanasi V.G., Saiz E., Loomer P.M., Ancheta B., Uritani N., Ho S.P., Tomsia A.P., Marshall S.J., Marshall G.W.  (2009).  Enhanced osteocalcin expression by osteoblast-like cells (MC3T3-E1) exposed to bioactive coating glass (SiO2-CaO-P2O5-MgO, K2O-Na2O system) ions.  Acta Biomaterialia 5:3536-47.

Varanasi V.G., Besmann T.M., Payzant E.A., Starr T.L., Anderson T.J. (2008).  Thermodynamic analysis and growth of Zr02 by chloride chemical vapor deposition.  Thin Solid Films 516:6133-39.

Varanasi V.G., Besmann T.M., Hyde R.L., Payzant E.A., Anderson J. (2008). MOCVD of YSZ coatings using beta-diketonate precursors.  Journal of Alloys and Compounds 470: 354-359.

Won Y.S., Kim Y.S., Varanasi V.G., Kryliouk O., Anderson J., Sirimanne C.T., McElwee-White L. (2007).  Growth of ZrC thin films by aerosol-assisted MOCVD.  Journal of Crystal Growth 304:324-332.

Won Y.S., Varanasi V.G., Kryliouk O, Anderson T.J., McElwee-White L., Perez R.J. (2007).  Equilibrium analysis of zirconium carbide CVD growth.  Journal of Crystal Growth 307: 302-308.

Varanasi V.G., Besmann T.M., Anderson T.J. (2005).  Equilibrium analysis of CVD of yttria-stabililized zirconia. Journal of the Electrochemical Society 152: C7.

McHale M.E.R., Fletcher K.A., Coym K.S., Acree W.E., Varanasi V.G., Campbell S.W. (1997).  Thermochemical investigations of hydrogen-bonded solutions. 13. Prediction of pyrene solubilities in binary alcohol plus alcohol solvent mixtures using alcohol-specific mobile order theory stability constants.  Physics and Chemistry of Liquids 34: 103-124.

Powell J.R., Fletcher K.A., Coym, K.S., Acree W.E., Varanasi V.G., Campbell S.W. (1997).  Prediction of anthracene solubilities in binary alcohol plus alcohol solvent mixtures using alcohol-specific mobile order theory stability constants.  International Journal of Thermophysics 18:1495-1515.

Powell J.R., McHale M.E.R., Kauppila A.S.M., Acree W.E., Flanders P.H., Varanasi V.G., Campbell S.W. (1997).  Prediction of anthracene solubility in alcohol plus aklane solvent mixtures using binary alcohol plus alkane VLE data.  Comparison of Kretschmer-Wiebe and mobile order models.  Fluid Phase Equilibria 134: 185-200.