Carnegie Mellon University

Dean Bellavia (Ph.D. 1971), “Doctors’ Doctor” for Orthodontists

Dr. Dean Bellavia is literally one of the pioneers of Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon. He came to Pittsburgh in 1966 for graduate education in the “Carnegie Tech”, after receiving a diploma in Electrical Engineering in 1962 from Brooklyn Technical High School and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1966 from Syracuse University. He received an M.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1968 from the then brand new Carnegie-Mellon University, followed by a Ph.D. in 1971 as one of the very earliest doctorate students in the new Biotechnology Program, advised by Dr. Thomas W. Calvert, the first Head of the Subdepartment of Bioengineering within the Electrical Engineering Department.

Orthodontics for the People

After working at the West Penn Hospital, Bellavia moved to the State University of New York at Buffalo, in the Department of Public Health. The experience led him to the establishment of “The Bio-Engineering Company”, with the goal of systemizing and optimizing the orthodontic industry. Orthodontists soon recognized Bellavia as a guru in practice management. He published many articles in trade journals and wrote four defining books on the management of orthodontics. His design of patient-centered “people systems” became widely adopted in orthodontics and dentistry over the past four decades.

Bellavia has engaged in a number of organizations related to the management of health practices. He was an organizer of the “Holistic Dental Association” in 1980, which emphasized alternative methods of treating Temporal Mandibular Disorder; it has subsequently grown into an international holistic health association. Between 1996 and 2000, Bellavia organized Omega Orthodontics (NASDAQ, ORTH), an orthodontic Management Service Organization with a $13.5 million IPO, where he personally managed the daily operation of a dozen orthodontics practices acquired by the company.

Passion for Personal Research: From Personality Finesse to Physical Fitness

Typical of Carnegie Mellon graduated engineers, Bellavia maintained a passion in innovative research over the decades since graduation. While working with doctors and their staff, he noticed the critical importance of hiring “the right people for the first time”. He designed a people system that facilities the decision of who should or should not be hired for a particular position. The study of thousands of subjects over 35 years then led him to the publication of a book, “Personality Finesse…how we nurture our nature” (available through, which defines not only human personality, but how one can nurture that innate personality for achieving a more fulfilling life.

Bellavia also devoted much personal effort to the study of physical health. Using his training in Biomedical Engineering, he developed a formula that can predict total blood cholesterol based on food intake. He uses a computer program that keeps track of his nutrition uptake, which was used to analyze the effect of diet on the effort of the heart and how to optimize it. He is intrigued by the bio-magnetic therapy for relieving pains and other health problems—and for maintaining excellent personal health for himself. He fixed his decades-long back problems using a “Back Wellness Program” that he developed, which combines videos, workbooks and bio-magnetic therapy.

A Happy Healthy Man with a Happy Family

Dr. Dean Bellavia has been married to his wife Cindy for 32 years. Cindy is a highly successful dietitian and the lead dietitian at Buffalo Children’s Hospital. They have three wonderful daughters, one is getting her degree in special education, one has her B.A. in English, and one has a Masters in English Education. Bellavia, now 70 years old, felt that his life was “jump-started by my graduation from CMU as a bioengineer…with more excitement yet to come”.