New CiPD, Wharton Partnership to Study New Technologies Commercialization


Philadelphia — The Center for Innovation & Precision Dentistry (CiPD), Penn Dental Medicine’s collaborative center with Penn Engineering, and Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management have launched a partnership that will bring together students from the three Penn schools to study the commercialization of new technologies.

The inaugural team includes Penn Dental Medicine endodontics resident and DScD candidate Chrissie Jaruchotiratanasakul (GD’25); Hong-Huy Tran, an Engineering postdoc studying robotics and material science; and Manali Mahajan, a Wharton MBA student with career experience in strategy and operations. They will develop a commercialization strategy for a microrobotics technology currently being developed by Dr. Hyun (Michel) Koo, Co-Founding Director of CiPD and Professor in the Department of Orthodontics and Divisions of Community Oral Health and Pediatric Dentistry, and Dr. Edward Steager of Penn Engineering.

Koo and Steager have created shapeshifting throngs of nanoparticles that show promise as an all-in-one device that toothbrushes, rinses, and flosses autonomously. Using an electromagnetic field, they direct the motion and configuration of the iron oxide nanoparticles to form either bristle like structures that sweep away dental plaque from the broad surfaces of teeth, or elongated strings that can slip between teeth like a length of floss. In both instances, a catalytic reaction drives the nanoparticles to produce antimicrobials that kill harmful oral bacteria on site. They are developing prototypes for delivering the microrobots through a mouth-fitting device.

Koo feels this technology could be crucial in clinical settings like hospitals and nursing care homes as well as the homecare market to help address low rates of compliance in brushing and flossing, especially among the elderly and disabled.

“Many people could really benefit from this technology and it’s time we bring it to market,” says Koo. “That’s why I’m excited about this collaboration.”