Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources

Information on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on patient care and School/University operations. Plus, resources for the Penn Dental Medicine community and alumni.

Menu Toggle

History of Innovation at Penn Dental Medicine

Thomas Evans

A Philadelphia native who spent most of his life in France, Dr. Evans became the dentist to royalty during France’s Second Empire and confidant of Napoleon III and his wife, the Empress Eugénie (probably saving her life at the fall of the Second Empire when he helped her escape to England in the carriage that now resides at Penn Dental Medicine). A highly innovative dentist known for his skills with gold foil fillings, he was the first to use vulcanite rubber as a base for dentures and introduced nitrous oxide as an anesthetic to Europe. Evans left his estate to create a dental school that would be “second to none,” making possible the construction of Penn Dental Medicine’s Thomas W. Evans Museum and Dental Institute at 40th and Spruce Streets.

W.D. Miller

A member of the first graduating class of Penn Dental Medicine in 1879, Dr. Miller later carried out monumental research establishing the bacterio-chemical theory of dental caries. In 1889, he published Micro-organisms of the Human Mouth, a classic in the field of dental literature, and one of the first works to have re-oriented the dental profession from focusing solely on treatment to the idea of prevention. His work also promoted the concept of a biologic foundation in dental education.

Louis Grossman

A 1923 graduate of Penn Dental Medicine, Dr. Grossman — widely considered the father of modern endodontic practice — paved the way for the birth of the specialty. His seminal text, Root Canal Therapy (published in 1940 and later retitled Endodontic Practice) was the first major scientific work on endodontics, changing the way root canal procedures were viewed and performed. Dr. Grossman joined the School’s faculty in 1927 and retired as 1972, serving in the division of endodontics, which was part of the Department of Oral Medicine. Dr. Grossman was the founding force behind the formation of the American Association of Endodontists in 1943. It wasn’t until 1965 that the American Dental Association recognized the specialty of endodontics, and it was in 1972 that Penn Dental Medicine established its Department of Endodontics.

Lester Burket

A pioneer in the field of oral medicine and considered by many to be the father of this discipline, Dr. Burket was the sixth Dean of Penn Dental Medicine, serving in this leadership role from 1951 to 1972. He was one of the first educators to promote the concept of the integration of medicine into dental education and clinical practice and his textbook Oral Medicine (1st edition 1946) became a classic in the field. Dr. Burket earned his DDS at Penn Dental Medicine in 1932, an MD from Yale University in 1936, and joined the School’s faculty in 1937, quickly advancing to be named Professor and Chair of Oral Medicine in 1944. At the age of 37, he was one of the youngest to ever achieve this rank at the time.

Morton Amsterdam

A 1945 graduate of Penn Dental Medicine and a 1943 alumnus of Penn’s College of Liberal Arts, Dr. Amsterdam joined the School’s faculty in 1953, advancing through the ranks to Professor of Periodontics and Periodontal Prosthesis and serving in that position from 1967 through his retirement in 1992. A dynamic clinician and teacher who many recognized as “the father of periodontal prosthesis,” he had a far-reaching impact on the fields of periodontics and advanced restorative dentistry. Dr. Amsterdam served as Chairman of the Department of Prosthetic Dentistry within the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Medicine from 1963 to 1967 and was Director of Penn Dental Medicine’s Graduate Periodontics and Periodontal Prosthesis, which he helped to found, from 1969 through 1973.

Robert Schattner

A 1948 graduate of Penn Dental Medicine, Dr. Schattner was a dentist, inventor, and entrepreneurial businessman. A serendipitous conversation at a cocktail party in 1952 would change the trajectory of his career, leading to the world of business and product development as he went on to invent Chloraseptic, which would become one of the bestselling sore-throat anesthetics on the market. He also developed the hospital disinfectant Sporicidin and a host of other antimicrobial products. Over his career, Dr. Schattner received 70 patents and trademarks, and his success allowed him to become a tremendous philanthropist as well. His generosity included funding for the School’s Robert I. Schattner Center, the renovation of the Main Clinic (now the Robert I. Schattner Clinic), and the construction of the Schattner Pavilion.

D. Walter Cohen

Recognized for his leadership in education and the field of periodontics, Dr. Cohen, who completed an undergraduate degree at Penn in 1947 and earned a DDS at Penn Dental Medicine in 1950, was the School’s seventh Dean, serving in that capacity from 1972 to 1983. First joining the School’s faculty in 1951, his academic career at Penn Dental Medicine spanned more than 30 years, including serving as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Periodontics. Becoming an internationally known investigator in the field of periodontics, the School honored the legacy of leadership Dr. Cohen and Dr. Morton Amsterdam (see October’s entry) forged in the specialty with the naming of the D. Walter Cohen and Morton Amsterdam Periodontal Clinic in 2008.

Contact

Center for Innovation & Precision Dentistry
Penn Dental Medicine
240 S. 40th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Phone | Email

Interested in attending Penn Dental Medicine? Admissions