Vanier Scholar Amir Abdi

Combining dentistry and computer engineering to improve patient outcomes

Amir Abdi is using his expertise in engineering and dentistry to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with illnesses that affect the mouth, jaw or face. When he discovered the Human Communications Technology Lab at UBC he knew this was the best place for him to pursue his unique research. This lab allows scientists to bring diverse specialties together to confront the challenges of human-computer interaction.

Amir has been combining dentistry and computer engineering for some time. He received his master’s degree in computer engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Iran while simultaneously studying dentistry at Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Iran. Amir also practiced dentistry for two years before starting his Ph.D. He is supervised by Professors Purang Abolmaesumi and Sidney Fels while he is at UBC, supported by the Vanier Scholarship.

His research focuses on biomechanical simulation of mastication and he proposes to create tools to enable a model-based workflow that will allow clinicians as well as speech-language pathologists and prosthodontists to test and predict functional outcomes of multiple treatment plans. Having a model of how a patient chews, swallows or speaks is substantial for a precise treatment plan in reconstructive surgeries.

Each of us has a slightly different bone structure and muscle attachments which affect the way we move our jaw to make the subtle motions needed to speak and eat. Therefore, Amir’s goal is to create a subject-specific pre-treatment model of the patient based on the clinical data such as 3D dental scans, MRI, CT, and jaw movement trajectories, using a 3D modeling platform, the ArtiSynth, developed in the Human-Centered Design Lab at UBC. From there, he will simulate different surgical treatment strategies to estimate their effects on standard clinical outcome measures. This project will bridge the gap between medical imaging and treatment based on virtual models of the patient.

The Government of Canada launched the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships program in 2008 to strengthen Canada’s ability to attract world-class doctoral students and establish Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning. Vanier Scholarships support students who demonstrate both leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in the social sciences and/or humanities, natural sciences and/or engineering and health.

The video above features demonstrations of the ArtiSynth 3D biomechanical modeling platform.