“Something I will carry with me all my life”

Vitor Stuani, a member of the Osteology Foundation from Brazil, speaks to the Osteology Foundation about his career, how it all began and the role that the Foundation played in it. And so he begins to tell…

 

“It was 2015 when I first became aware of the Osteology Foundation”

“I was developing my PhD research project and I was looking into possible grants to fund my research. Luckily, I found out about the Osteology Researcher Grant. This was the first glimpse I had of the organization and it is what led me to seek more information about the Osteology Foundation,” he begins. Vitor was very impressed by the Osteology Foundation’s philosophy of fostering scientific development and training young researchers. Shortly after he discovered the Foundation, he found out that a National Osteology Symposium was going to be held in Brazil in 2016. He registered immediately. From that day on, his Osteology Foundation Story only continued to grow.

Vitor’s first Osteology Foundation event

National Osteology Symposium Brazil - Vitor was immediately amazed by the quality of the courses and the event’s dynamic organization. “There was a lot of information but the concise presentations and the interactions with the speakers made everything flow very smoothly. I had the chance to attend the brilliant lectures of Dr. Giulio Rasperini, Dr. Istvan Urban and Dr. Christoph Hämmerle,” he adds. Shortly after the this event, Vitor registered at the Osteology Research Academy in Rio de Janeiro in 2017. “I believe that my first success, or at least one of the most memorable ones, was the Education Grant I received for the Osteology Research Academy in Rio de Janeiro. It was at the Osteology Research Academy that I became deeply immersed in the Osteology Foundation’s philosophy. This event was different from all the others I had attended thus far. Rather than just sharing information in an expository way, the objective of the Osteology Research Academy is to teach researchers how to develop their research,” he tells. Vitor enjoys reflecting on this very important time in his career. During this short time, he had the opportunity to discuss scientific methodology with renowned researchers and he also made new friends from all over the world. This opportunity had a great impact on the way he began to view both scientific production and his own career goals.

 

Dinner with colleagues and friends at the Osteology Research Academy Rio de Janeiro 2017
Group picture of the Osteology Research Academy Rio de Janeiro attendees in 2017

 

The launch of this group only increased it

In 2017, the Foundation was developing and launching the National Osteology Group Brazil. Vitor’s enthusiasm for the Foundation was already considerable at that time but the launch of this group only increased it. “I became a member of the National Osteology Group Brazil as soon as the group was officially launched during the Sobrape congress 2017,” he remembers with a smile. Since then, Vitor has greatly admired the work developed by João Batista César Neto, André Vajgel, Cléverson Silva and Vitor Marques Sapata, who lead the group. Being part of the group is a practical way for a clinician to stay up to date, especially as monthly webinars on many diverse topics with renowned professionals are offered to its members. Vitor was very honored and happy when he was invited to lead a webinar about additive manufacturing (3D printing) in dentistry. 

Vitor pauses his story and briefly jumps back to the current situation, “before the pandemic, I was not used to leading webinars, as face-to-face events were usually preferred; however, the pandemic normalized online classes and living our lives through social media. I believe that this is a trend that is becoming more common day by day. It is very convenient both for those presenting the webinar and those who are watching it. Additionally, it opens up a whole range of new possibilities.

“Something I will carry with me all my life”

Vitor has always been very enthusiastic about the prestigious Harvard University. He has always wanted to have an academic experience abroad. In 2018, the Osteology Foundation offered a Research Scholarship in Boston. Vitor jumped at the chance to apply for this unique opportunity. In his mind, it was THE chance to fulfill one of his almost unthinkable dreams. He looks off into the distance as he begins to recall that time, “the Osteology Research Scholarship was a life-changing experience. When I heard about the program offered by the Osteology Foundation, I spent a lot of time improving my curriculum vitae and preparing myself for this opportunity. I chose Boston, so I could have the chance to work alongside Dr. David Kim. Additionally, I was able to have an experience at Harvard School of Dental Medicine, which is a world-renowned research center.” 

Shortly after his application, he received the news from the Osteology Foundation that he had been successful. Vitor could hardly believe it. He had been chosen for the Osteology Research Scholarship Boston 2018. He still remembers it clearly, “I had visited Boston for the first time a year before that with my PhD advisor, Dr. Adriana Sant'Ana during the AAP (American Academy of Periodontology) Annual Meeting. I remember that, at that time, I visited Harvard and thought ‘how great would it be to study here?’. A year later, I was arriving with my bags.”

 

Vitor (left) and David Kim (right) at Harvard University

 

Before Vitor left for his year abroad in the USA, he participated in the National Osteology Symposium Brazil again. At this 2018 event, there was an exclusive workshop with Daniel Buser for all the members of the National Osteology Group Brazil. Vitor said goodbye to Brazil until next year at this event but the Osteology Foundation remained his loyal supporter, both in Brazil and too in the USA.

 

Meeting friends at the National Osteology Symposium Brazil 2018

As soon as he arrived at Harvard, an intense period of learning began. It took Vitor a lot of courage and fortitude to leave his family and friends and to move to another country on his own. Harvard is a center that attracts people from all over the world, which means it has a very dynamic multicultural aspect. Vitor was to meet many people from many different countries and cultures. He further explains to us that the academic structure of the USA has its own peculiarities compared to that of Brazil. It was therefore very enriching for him to have experience of another way of doing research. On top of this, he was exposed to different areas of knowledge, such as nanofabrication and nanoscale analysis. After this experience of a lifetime, he became more mature about how he organizes a laboratory and more knowledgeable about how to conduct high impact research.

The Osteology Foundation asks Vitor for a bit more detail about the projects he participated in that year and he is happy to share his experience: “During that period, I was able to get involved in two projects. The first one aimed to evaluate three techniques for incorporating platelet-derived growth factors into 3D printed polymeric scaffolds. This would then be used for bone regeneration. The second project consisted of the development of an alternative methodology for the in-vitro evaluation of re-osseointegration. For this, we designed a polymeric framework containing a hydrogel with pre-osteoblasts and used titanium micro-implants that underwent different decontamination protocols. With this, it was possible to reproduce a system that was morphologically more similar to the clinical presentation of peri-implantitis than the titanium discs usually used for this type of experiment. The Osteology Research Scholarship is something that I am incredibly grateful for and something I will carry with me all my life. I would certainly recommend it to anyone interested in participating.”

 

Some group work during Vitor’s Osteology Research Scholarship in Boston

 

“I have always admired the work of William Giannobile and his team”

After the excitement had subsided somewhat and Vitor had settled in well at Harvard, he had the opportunity to attend the Osteology Research Academy in Ann Arbor. He was very happy that this Osteology Research Academy was offered during his scholarship in the USA. He received a grant from the Osteology Foundation because he was a scholar at the time. He confidently adds, “I have always admired the work of Dr. William Giannobile and his team. I think the papers they wrote at the University of Michigan are among the most innovative research in the field in recent years. Also, considering that they have great experience in my main research focus, which is the use of 3D printing in the production of bone grafts, I considered it a unique opportunity.” The Osteology Research Academy in Rio de Janeiro 2017 and the one in Ann Arbor were so totally different as to be incomparable. It was a completely new experience for Vitor. This is precisely what is so exciting about the Osteology Research Academies. They are all designed around the same concept, but each event is characterized by the personalities of its organizers and this makes them unique. One of Vitor's goals was to work in translational research, so the Osteology Research Academy in Ann Arbor was very enriching for him. The event was designed around the workflow of a translational research project, explaining how to go from in vitro research to industrial production.

 

During a presentation by Niklaus Lang at the Osteology Research Academy Ann Arbor 2018
Group picture of the Osteology Research Academy Ann Arbor attendees in 2018

 

“His words really had an impact on my career”

Vitor summarizes the two Osteology Research Academies in Rio de Janeiro and Ann Arbor as the two Osteology events at which he had extremely impressive encounters with legendary researchers. He remembers listening to Niklaus Lang and Myron Nevins. “Dr. Lang was responsible for one of the most emotional and inspiring speeches I have ever heard and, as a young researcher, his words really had an impact on my career,” he adds with satisfaction.

“It is our moral duty to share that knowledge with others”

While Vitor was on scholarship in Boston, the International Osteology Symposium Barcelona took place in spring 2019. This event was very important for Vitor both personally and professionally. The event was a great opportunity to see some of his friends again and for them to have the chance to explore beautiful Barcelona together. First and foremost, however, the event was very important to him professionally. He explains, “since 2015, I had been researching the development and implementation of digital workflows in regenerative procedures using 3D printers. This topic was extensively explored during the symposium. I also had the opportunity to learn about innovative techniques and speak with the remarkable authors of the articles that had inspired me since the very start of my career.”

The Osteology Foundation remembers well when Vitor was honored with the "Best Research Poster Audience Award" at the Osteology Symposium Barcelona 2019. It was one of the best feelings for Vitor to be able to share the result of his research. He had worked on it for months. Also, the recognition of his research that came along with the award made Vitor feel extremely grateful. He was very excited to be able to go up on stage and feel that he had contributed at least a little bit to the event. He explains “I presented research that I had been developing during my Osteology Research Scholarship under the guidance of Dr. David Kim and Dr. Masazumi Nagai. The project consisted of the evaluation of three different techniques for incorporating platelet-derived growth factors into polymeric scaffolds produced with a 3D printer for use in bone regeneration procedures. I think that scientific dissemination is one of the most important endpoints in science. If we discover something, it is our moral duty to share that knowledge with others. One way to achieve this goal is through publishing academic papers and another is by presenting our findings at scientific events. That said, presenting a poster about your research is a very enriching experience.” These moments and possibilities provide the perfect environment for sharing knowledge. When you share information, you also receive even more information back in return. Vitor was exposed to all kinds of new information at this event. He received advice from more experienced researchers and was able to meet and discuss his studies with people from around the world. “I certainly strongly recommend participating in the poster session promoted by the Osteology Foundation,” he says in closing.

 

Vitor at the Poster Session during the International Osteology Symposium Barcelona 2019
Vitor and Reinhard Gruber, from whom vitor received the Best Research Poster Audience Award

 

“In the near future, I plan…”

As Vitor tells, he is firmly convinced of the importance and benefit of the Osteology Research Academies. He therefore plans to apply to participate in the Osteology Research Academy modules about hard tissue research and interface biology and ultrastructure. Furthermore, he would like to continue his research about 3D printed bone grafts. He also wants to continue to participate in the Osteology Research Group Brazil and other Osteology events. Vitor is very enthusiastic about what is yet to come.

Vitor pauses briefly and then rounds off his Osteology Story by saying, “I have always wanted to be a professor who is dedicated to both research and clinical work. With the support I have received from the Osteology Foundation, this dream of mine has become closer to reality. I strongly believe that knowledge must be shared and I will do my best to use the expertise I have acquired to continue my own professional development and to share what I have learned as a professor and a researcher. I will continue to work closely with the Osteology Foundation, promoting and spreading its inspiring mission both in Brazil and in the rest of the world.”