dr. ir. D. (Debby) Gawlitta

Associate Professor

  • Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Prosthodontics and Special Dental Care

dr. ir. D. (Debby) Gawlitta


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 in her regenerative strategies. Consequently, one of her research lines revolves around recapitulation of the natural direct mechanism for bone formation (intramembranous), which is accompanied by blood vessel formation. Additionally, she investigates bone regeneration from a cartilage template (endochondral), which for example naturally occurs in the growth plate.

Research keywords include clinical translation, biomaterials, stem/progenitor cells, 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 to continue her endochondral research line from the AO foundation.

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

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

    Scientific board member of the Regenerative Medicine Center Utrecht 

    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

Fellowship and Awards

  • 2018: H2020-MSCA-COFUND 'RESCUE' (co-applicant)

    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 (43)

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.

The chondrogenic differentiation potential of dental pulp stem cells

Longoni A, Utomo L, van Hooijdonk I E, Bittermann G K, Vetter V C, Kruijt Spanjer E C, Ross J, Rosenberg A J, Gawlitta D 21 feb 2020, In: European Cells & Materials. 39 , p. 121-135 15 p.

Prophylaxis of implant-related infections by local release of vancomycin from a hydrogel in rabbits

Boot W, Vogely H C, Nikkels P G, Pouran B, van Rijen M H, Ekkelenkamp M B, Hänsch G M, Dhert W J, Gawlitta D 19 feb 2020, In: European Cells & Materials. 39 , p. 108-120 13 p.

Layer-specific cell differentiation in bi-layered vascular grafts under flow perfusion

Pennings Iris, van Haaften Eline E, Jungst Tomasz, Bulsink Jurgen A, Rosenberg Antoine, Groll Jürgen, Bouten Carlijn V C, Kurniawan Nicholas A, Smits Anthal I P M, Gawlitta Debby 18 nov 2019, In: Biofabrication. 12 13 p.

Heterotypic Scaffold Design Orchestrates Primary Cell Organization and Phenotypes in Cocultured Small Diameter Vascular Grafts

Jungst Tomasz, Pennings Iris, Schmitz Michael, Rosenberg Antoine J.W.P., Groll Jürgen, Gawlitta Debby 1 okt 2019, In: Advanced Functional Materials. 29

Contrast enhanced computed tomography for real-time quantification of glycosaminoglycans in cartilage tissue engineered constructs

Garcia João P, Longoni Alessia, Gawlitta Debby, J W P Rosenberg Antoine, Grinstaff Mark W, Töyräs Juha, Weinans Harrie, Creemers Laura B, Pouran Behdad 30 sep 2019, In: Acta Biomaterialia. 100 , p. 202-212 11 p.

Complete regeneration of large bone defects in rats with commercially available fibrin loaded with BMP-2

Koolen M, Longoni A, van der Stok J, Van der Jagt O, Gawlitta D, Weinans H 17 sep 2019, In: European Cells & Materials. 38 , p. 94-105 12 p.

A Versatile Biosynthetic Hydrogel Platform for Engineering of Tissue Analogues

Klotz Barbara J, Oosterhoff Loes A, Utomo Lizette, Lim Khoon S, Vallmajo-Martin Queralt, Clevers Hans, Woodfield Tim B F, Rosenberg Antoine J W P, Malda Jos, Ehrbar Martin, Spee Bart, Gawlitta Debby 12 aug 2019, In: Advanced Healthcare Materials. 8

Visible Light Cross-Linking of Gelatin Hydrogels Offers an Enhanced Cell Microenvironment with Improved Light Penetration Depth

Lim Khoon S, Klotz BJ, Lindberg Gabriella C J, Melchels Ferry P W, Hooper Gary J, Malda Jos, Gawlitta Debby, Woodfield Tim B F 26 apr 2019, In: Macromolecular Bioscience. 19 14 p.

Effect of Donor Variation on Osteogenesis and Vasculogenesis in Hydrogel Co-cultures

Pennings I, van Dijk L A, van Huuksloot J, Fledderus J O, Schepers K, Braat A K, Hsiao E C, Barruet E, Morales B M, Verhaar M C, Rosenberg A J W P, Gawlitta D 16 jan 2019, In: Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine. 13 , p. 433-445 13 p.

All Research Output (43)