Texas A&M College of Dentistry announces $1 million Gottlieb chair, honors renowned dental medicine pioneer
A craniofacial medicine symposium on Feb. 20 highlighted Texas A&M College of Dentistry’s announcement of its new $1 million Bernhard Gottlieb Endowed Chair in Craniofacial Research and the chair’s first holder, Dr. Thomas Diekwisch.
“This honor carries with it much prestige and respect,” said Dr. Lawrence Wolinsky, dean, in announcing the appointment of Diekwisch, who directs the Center for Craniofacial Research and Diagnosis and heads the department of periodontics. “The Bernhard Gottlieb Endowed Chair in Craniofacial Research represents an important milestone for the college as we look toward building a stronger research enterprise and securing our position as a leader in dental education.”
Gottlieb, a preeminent scientist considered by many as the father of oral histology, was a physician and dentist who taught basic sciences at the Dallas dental college from 1941 until his death in 1950. He led the internationally recognized Dental Research Institute at the University of Vienna in the 1920s and 1930s but was forced out when Hitler annexed Austria in 1938. Gottlieb and his fellow institute colleagues continued their research endeavors in America, where the influence of their scholarly work is still felt today.
“This is such an honor to be bestowed an endowed chair in Gottlieb’s name,” Diekwisch said. “Gottlieb’s contributions were vast in many areas of dental research, but perhaps his greatest contribution was serving the role of a mentor to all the fantastic people who came out of his laboratory in Vienna.
“It’s a passion of mine to stimulate exactly those kinds of interactions between clinicians and basic scientists but translate them into modern-world research applications.”
A charitable trust created by Houston dentist and Texas A&M University alumnus Dr. Ralph Boelsche, Class of 1926 — who assisted Gottlieb with research in the 1940s — has benefited research activities at the College of Dentistry for years since he and his wife, Ida, died in the 1990s. Now the trust’s assets have sparked the chair’s creation.
Wolinsky recognized Distinguished Alumnus Dr. Frank Eggleston, longtime leader in organized dentistry, for his role in helping forge the bequest of the trust to the college. Eggleston practiced with Boelsche and spent years learning from his mentor, who was just as much a father figure as a professional colleague.
The $1 million endowment level was reached when the Boelsche trust assets were combined with $328,000 from the Baylor Oral Health Foundation and matching funds of $500,000 from Texas A&M University.
“It was Dr. Boelsche’s interest in preserving Dr. Gottlieb’s legacy that helped get us to this point,” Wolinsky said. “The gracious financial support we received toward this chair helped us fulfill his dream and my aspiration for our college. It is fitting that the first holder is an internationally renowned researcher who also happens to have spent significant time studying Dr. Gottlieb’s life work.”