dr. ir. D. Gawlitta

dr. ir. D. Gawlitta

Associate Professor
dr. ir. D. Gawlitta
  • Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Prosthodontics and Special Dental Care



Dr. Debby Gawlitta is an associate Professor working on maxillofacial tissue regeneration, particularly focusing on bone regeneration. She is inspired by the natural mechanisms of the body for bone development and repair that she aims to adopt in her regenerative strategies. Translation of the regenerative strategies to clinical practice is driving current research.

Consequently, she aims to mimic the process of endochondral bone regeneration (via a cartilage intermediate - such as seen in the growth plate) to ultimately restore defects in patients. Recently, she showed the potential of allogeneic cells in this regenerative approach and currently studies the impact of the interaction with the immune system, devitalization and avenues for scale-up and clinical translation (see also here). The use of allogeneic cells would ease therapeutic interventions in patients. Furthermore, her group is focusing on vascularization strategies for bone regeneration to be able to create engineered bone tissue that is large enough to treat patient defects.

Research keywords include bone regeneration, clinical translation, biomaterials, stem/progenitor cells (MSCs), osteoimmunology, bioreactors, and 3D bioprinting.


Dr. Gawlitta was trained as a biomedical engineer at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Her PhD thesis was focused on generating engineered skeletal muscle tissue to model and monitor the development of pressure ulcers.

In 2007, she moved to the department of Orthopaedics, University Medical Center in Utrecht, to work on bone and cartilage tissue regeneration within the Hospital's strategic impulse on regenerative medicine. During this postdoctoral period, she received a prestigious Veni grant (Dutch innovation grant) to pursue (endochondral) bone regeneration from a cartilage template with bone marrow-derived stem cells.

In 2014, she moved to the department of 'Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery & Special Dental Care' to establish her own group focusing on craniomaxillofacial bone regeneration. She currently holds a position as Associate Professor, supervising her group in the RMCU (Regenerative Medicine Center Utrecht). In 2016, she received a start-up grant from the AO Foundation and in 2021 she received an OTP grant from NWO to extend and continue her endochondral research line in the XLbone project. She has published over 60 peer-reviewed papers.

Further, Debby Gawlitta developed and coordinates the 2-year Master’s program RMT – Regenerative Medicine and Technology. Since 2012, RMT is a collaborative program of the UMCU, Utrecht University and Eindhoven University of Technology.

Side Activities

Board member of the Strategic Research Program (speerpunt) 'Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells', UMC Utrecht

Member of the internationalization committee of the UMC Utrecht

Scientific board member of the Regenerative Medicine Center Utrecht 

MDR Young Talent Committee

Coordinator of Master's program 'Regenerative Medicine and Technology'

Teaching of various annual Bachelor, Master’s, PhD and Summer school lectures in the Biomedical Sciences, Veterinary Sciences, and Medicine curricula on e.g. Biomechanics, Bone Tissue Engineering and Bioreactors.

Reviewer for several journals, including Tissue Engineering, Biofabrication, Biomaterials, Biomedical Materials Research


Former Member of the UMC Utrecht Young Academy

Member of the local organizing committee of the ESB 2018 (annual meeting of the European Society for Biomaterials)

Former Board Member NVMB (Dutch Society for Matrix Biology)

Fellowship and Awards

2022: NWO-TTW Open Technology Program 'Bridging the gap: aXelerated Large bone defect healing (XLbone)' No. 19260 (€ 839,935)

2018: H2020-MSCA-COFUND 'RESCUE' No. 801540 (co-applicant, € 3M)

2017: NWO Gravitation program 'MDR: Materials-driven research' (faculty member, € 18.8M)

2017: AO grant (AOCMF-17-17G) ‘MACRON: Mandibular Condyle Regeneration’ (€ 350,000)

2016: AO Foundation start-up grant (S-16-130G) ‘Clinical translation of endochondral bone regeneration’ (€ 107,000)

2016: Selected for the Research Talent Program of the UMC Utrecht

2014: Internal grant of UMC Utrecht for translational research (€ 33,300)

2013: NWO (Dutch Science Foundation) Graduate Program grant (€ 800,000)

2012: Selected for the Steyn Parvé program for stimulation of excellent female scientists of UMC Utrecht

2010: Veni: personal innovational incentive grant entitled ‘Mimicking nature: growing bone from cartilage’ was awarded by STW (Dutch technology foundation) (€250,000)

2008: Award for best thesis at the faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology

2000: Award for internship at foreign institute (Eindhoven University of Technology)

Research Output (52)

An In Vitro Model to Test the Influence of Immune Cell Secretome on Mesenchymal Stromal Cell Osteogenic Differentiation

Khokhani Paree, Belluomo Ruggero, Croes Michiel, Gawlitta Debby, Kruyt Moyo C, Weinans Harrie 30 Jun 2022, In: Tissue engineering. Part C, Methods. 28 , p. 420-430 11 p.

Cardiovascular Tissue Engineering and Regeneration:A Plead for Further Knowledge Convergence

Bouten Carlijn V C, Cheng Caroline, Vermue Ijsbrand M, Gawlitta Debby, Passier Robert 6 May 2022, In: Tissue Engineering. Part A. 28 , p. 525-541 17 p.

Acceleration of Bone Regeneration Induced by a Soft-Callus Mimetic Material

Longoni Alessia, Utomo Lizette, Robinson Abbie, Levato Riccardo, Rosenberg Antoine J W P, Gawlitta Debby 28 Dec 2021, In: Advanced Science. 9 , p. 1-14

Development and Characterization of Gelatin-Norbornene Bioink to Understand the Interplay between Physical Architecture and Micro-capillary Formation in Biofabricated Vascularized Constructs

Soliman Bram G, Major Gretel S, Atienza-Roca Pau, Murphy Caroline A, Longoni Alessia, Alcala-Orozco Cesar R, Rnjak-Kovacina Jelena, Gawlitta Debby, Woodfield Tim Bf, Lim Khoon S 8 Nov 2021, In: Advanced Healthcare Materials. 11

High-resolution lithographic biofabrication of hydrogels with complex microchannels from low-temperature-soluble gelatin bioresins

Levato Riccardo, Lim Khoon S, Li Wanlu, Asua Ane Urigoitia, Peña Laura Blanco, Wang Mian, Falandt Marc, Bernal Paulina Nuñez, Gawlitta Debby, Zhang Yu Shrike, Woodfield Tim B F, Malda Jos Sep 2021, In: Materials Today Bio. 12 , p. 1-13

Impact of Endotoxins in Gelatine Hydrogels on Chondrogenic Differentiation and Inflammatory Cytokine Secretion In Vitro

Groen Wilhelmina M G A C, Utomo Lizette, Castilho Miguel, Gawlitta Debby, Malda Jos, Weeren P René van, Levato Riccardo, Korthagen Nicoline M 2 Nov 2020, In: International journal of molecular sciences. 21 , p. 1-17 17 p.

Engineered devitalized cartilaginous tissue for bone regeneration

Gawlitta Debby, Longoni Alessia, Utomo Lizette, Rosenberg AJWP 11 Sep 2020,

Endochondral Bone Regeneration by Non-autologous Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Longoni Alessia, Pennings I, Cuenca Lopera Marta, van Rijen M H P, Peperzak Victor, Rosenberg A J W P, Levato Riccardo, Gawlitta Debby 9 Jul 2020, In: Frontiers in bioengineering and biotechnology. 8 , p. 1-14 14 p.

Bio-ink development for three-dimensional bioprinting of hetero-cellular cartilage constructs

Mouser Vivian H M, Levato Riccardo, Mensinga Anneloes, Dhert Wouter J A, Gawlitta Debby, Malda Jos 3 Mar 2020, In: Connective tissue research. 61 , p. 137-151 15 p.

Gel casting as an approach for tissue engineering of multilayered tubular structures

van Velthoven Melissa J J, Ramadan Rana, Zügel Franziska S, Klotz Barbara J, Gawlitta Debby, Costa Pedro F, Malda Jos, Castilho Miguel, de Kort Laetitia M O, de Graaf Petra 23 Feb 2020, In: Tissue engineering. Part C, Methods. 26 , p. 190-198 9 p.

All research output

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