Dr. Yu Zhang Joins Penn Dental Medicine as Professor, Dept. of Preventive & Restorative Sciences


Dr. Yu Zhang

Philadelphia – Adding to the depth of the School’s research enterprise, Penn Dental Medicine welcomes Dr. Yu Zhang as Professor in the Department of Preventive & Restorative Sciences. Dr. Zhang, a leading authority in dental biomaterials, officially joined the School in July, coming to Penn Dental Medicine from New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD).

“It is with great enthusiasm that we welcome Dr. Zhang to our Penn Dental Medicine community,” says Morton Amsterdam Dean Mark S. Wolff. “His stellar academic and research record in the field of restorative dentistry will contribute greatly to the School.”

“It is without exaggeration to state that, at present, Dr. Zhang is one of the most respected if not the most respected dental ceramic researcher in the world,” notes Dr. Markus Blatz, Professor and Chair of the Department of Preventive & Restorative Sciences, who sees this recruitment as an important part of continuing to build on the Department’s leadership in the field of restorative dentistry. “Much of his work and inventions focus on clinical applications and improvements of zirconia dental ceramics, which have become by far the most popular ceramic materials group in dental practice.”

“His research not only aligns with the goals and strengths of our Department, but will take our scholarly activities and global reputation to the next level,” adds Dr. Blatz. “What separates Dr. Zhang is the clinical relevance and applicability of his work, bridging the gap between dental material sciences and clinical practice in both his research and teaching.”

Dr. Zhang’s academic career spans 15 years with NYUCD, where he most recently served as Professor with tenure (2018-2020) in the Department of Biomaterials and Biomimetics. He joined that Department in 2005 as an Assistant Professor (2005-2011), rising to Associate Professor (2011-2013), Associate Professor with tenure (2013-2018), and then, Professor with tenure. Throughout his time at NYUCD, Dr. Zhang was an active research mentor, advising postdoctoral fellows, PhD, and Masters students on biomaterials-related research.

A highly funded researcher, Dr. Zhang has had over 10 years of continuous support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as significant grant funding from the dental industry and the National Science Foundation. Dr. Zhang presently has two active R01 grant awards from the NIH’s National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research – one project focusing on the development of a nanostructured dental zirconia that is both strong and translucent and the other working to improve the fracture resistance of porcelain-veneered dental prostheses through the tailoring of residual stresses.

Among numerous honors and awards recognizing his accomplishments as both a researcher and educator, Dr. Zhang was the recipient of the Arthur R. Frechette Award in Prosthodontic Research from the International Association for Dental Research (2007), the NYUCD Outstanding Teacher Award (2015), and the NYUCD Kathleen C. Kinnally Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement (2018).

Dr. Zhang holds a BS in physics from Shanghai Normal University in China (1986); completed a MS degree in physics at La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia (1997), and earned his PhD in materials science and engineering at Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia (2002). He also completed research fellowships at Monash University (2001-2002) and NYUCD (2002-2005), which was a joint project with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the American Dental Association Foundation. Dr. Zhang’s academic career started in 1986 when he became a faculty member in the Department of Physics at the Shanghai Institute of Light Industry, and subsequently, in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Shanghai Real Estate Specialty Institute (1987-1989). In addition, he was a guest scientist with the Materials Science and Engineering Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology from 2005 to 2006.

“Dr. Zhang’s experience fills a long-standing void in the Department, and as a global leader in the field of dental biomaterials, he brings significant stature and world-wide recognition to School and the University in an area of dentistry that is taking center stage,” adds Dr. Blatz. “This marks a significant step in the University’s quest to move from excellence to eminence.”