of the School of Dental Medicine's 125 Years: Landmarks of Excellence
Leadership and Innovation
The School of Dental Medicine was founded as the Dental Department
by the Trustees of the University. This was the third university-affiliated
dental school to be established in the nation (after Harvard University
and University of Michigan). The Dental Department opened in Medical
Hall, renamed Logan Hall in 1905. Dr. Charles J. Essig, the Dean
of the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery, was asked to join
the University of Pennsylvania and develop the Dental Department.
He led the Department as the Secretary of the Faculty from 1878-1883.
The original class was made up of just 53 students, many of whom
had been instructed by Dr. Essig at the Pennsylvania College of
Dental Surgery. By the 1880-1881 term, student enrollment had grown
to 77, including students from around the country, Europe, and South
America. Several of these students went on to become instructors
at the School.
Dr. James Brister, an 1881 graduate of the Dental School, is the
first known minority graduate of the University. The James Brister
Society has been named in his honor.
(Pearl) Zane Grey (at right), Class of 1896, and renowned
author of western novels, opened a dental office in New York City,
but preferred outdoor activities and writing to dentistry. Dr. Grey's
first trip west to the Arizona Territories launched his writing
career and he proceeded to write 26 novels between 1910 and 1962.
Dental Hall, located at 33rd and Locust Streets, was completed,
becoming the new home to the Dental Department. Designed by architect
Edgar Seeler, the total cost of the new building was approximately
$150,000. The interior included a large clinical operating room,
and labs for prosthetics, crown and bridge, metallurgy, modeling,
and histological and bacteriological. A 500-seat lecture amphitheatre,
dental museum, and library completed the building. Dean Edward Kirk
referred to the radical change in the Dental Department due to the
new building as a "renaissance rather than a development." The building
is now known as Hayden Hall, on Smith Walk, opposite the Towne Building.
W. Evans Dental Institute, graduate room, circa 1915.
The Thomas W. Evans Building dedication. This collegiate gothic,
Tudor-style building, was considered the most advanced dental teaching
facility in the nation when completed. It helped to establish new
standards for teaching clinical dentistry in the U.S., and today,
the Evans Building remains the site of most of the School's classroom
instruction as well as much of its clinical training.
School's earliest benefactor, Thomas W. Evans (at right),
built a prestigious dental career on the other side of the Atlantic,
becoming the dental surgeon and confidant of Napoleon III. Yet,
he never forgot his native Philadelphia, leaving his fortune to
create a dental institute and museum here that in his words would
be "not inferior to any already established." His bequest would
become one with the University of Pennsylvania, resulting in the
School of Dental Medicine's Thomas W. Evans Museum and Dental Institute.
First class to accept female dental students. Miss Margaret
Moore (at right) was among this entering class and
was Vice President of the Class that year.
The Center for Oral Health Research grant placed the SDM
at the forefront of the study of new approaches to the prevention
of oral diseases. During Dr. Jan Lindhe's administration (1983-88),
the Center for Oral Health Research (COHR) was replaced by
the Research Center in Oral Biology (RCOB). COHR and RCOB
provided the major source of NIH funding for Levy scientists
from the late 1960s until 1999. These centers served to mold,
strengthen, and unify the basic sciences at the SDM during
the years of its major expansion.
The Leon Levy Center for Oral Health Research (above)
dedication. The Levy Center played a pivotal role in the growth
of Penn Dental, providing a home for its basic science faculty and
the facilities needed to support a world-class research program.
Penn remains one of only a few dental schools in the country with
its own basic science faculty and a leader in oral health sciences
largess of Dr. Leon Levy, (at right) a Penn Dental graduate
of the Class of 1915, made possible the Leon Levy Center for Oral
Health Research, the hub of the School's research activities. While
he spent most of his professional life in the communications field
(buying WCAU radio in 1925 and helping to form the Columbia Broadcasting
System, now CBS), he remained an avid supporter of Penn Dental and
the importance of its research efforts. In addition to providing
funding for the Levy Center, Dr. Levy funded the School's Leon Levy
Library and was also responsible for the establishment of the Levy
Department of Dental Medicine at HUP.
Dr. Phoebe Leboy, (at left) Professor of Biochemistry, became
the first woman to achieve the rank of full professor in the Dental
The W.D. Miller Clinical Research Center (CRC) was established
to develop a program that would foster interdisciplinary clinical
research. This was the first dental clinical research center that
was federally funded.
The Microbiological Testing Laboratory, the first clinical oral
microbiological lab in the world, was formed. The Lab identifies
subgingival plaque samples for aggressive and chronic periodontitis
and endodontic samples for root canal and periapical infections.
The SDM was designated a World Health Organization Collaborating
Center for Oral Infectious Diseases: Education, Research, and Care.
School was designated as a test site for DenX's DentSim virtual
reality unit. DentSim simulates a complete patient in the form of
a stylized mannequin and enables students to learn specific procedures
in a preclinical setting. A dental student, and Dr. Judith Buchanan,
associate dean of academic affairs, explore DentSim (right).
Robert Schattner, Penn alumnus, in front of the new Robert Schattner
Center, which was dedicated November 1. Its state-of-the-art
facilities and unifying design have created an environment for promoting
interdisciplinary initiatives and reaching new levels of discovery
and achievement in oral health science and dental education, while
better serving the community. Its features include:
and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic (first floor)
Oral Medicine Clinic (second floor)
Admissions/Emergency Clinic (second floor)
Penn Dental at the Robert Schattner Center (third
floor)--a major provider of care to Penn staff and faculty.
new building has unified the Penn Dental campus. As the main entrance
to the School, it connects the three buildings of the Penn Dental
campus, improving the interaction of all members of the SDM community
and making the School more accessible to patients and other visitors.
to the importance of advancing dentistry and pursuing scientific
inquiry, Dr. Robert Schattner, (at left) D'48, is the
inventor of Chloraseptic mouthwash. Since the sale of The
Chloraseptic Company, he has continued his product research
activities, developing antimicrobial products under the Sporicidin®
and Masticide® trade names. In 1984, Dr. Schattner was
selected "Dentist of the Year" by the Association of Entrepreneurial
Penn Dental forged a partnership with InteliHealth,
an award-winning health information web site and subsidiary
of Aetna US Healthcare Inc., to develop an oral health information
site for consumers (at right) as well as one with resources
for the professional dental community, including continuing
education courses. Members of the faculty review and approve
all the oral health content.
Penn Dental currently has 16 women among its standing faculty and
the incoming Class of 2002 is 47% women.
Schattner Center dedication. The School's 70,000-square-foot clinical
care, education, and research facility will provide Penn Dental
with the resources needed to maintain excellence, leadership, and
innovation in advancing its mission of education, research, and
School launched its 125th Anniversary celebration on October 31
with a special Dental Leadership Forum that brought key leaders
in dental education, research, and organized dentistry to SDM. Senator
Arlen Specter addressed dental school deans from the US and Canada
at the Forum, held October 31 in the University Museum.
Trustees, Dental Overseers and major donors gathered November 1
for a luncheon dedication of the Schattner Center, held in the Center's
Anniversary web site is accessible through the Dental
The site also features a timeline of 125 highlights from
SDM's history, biographies on the School's deans, a section
on alumni memories, and throughout the year, it will be updated
with news and highlights related to the Robert Schattner Center
and the 125th celebration.
Raymond Fonseca (left) has been dean of the school since
1989 and is also professor of oral surgery/pharmacology. Under Dr.
Fonseca's leadership, the Dental House, a living and learning community
for Penn Dental students, was established a few blocks from the
School providing modern living space and a full pre-clinical dental
laboratory. He has expanded the faculty practice to six locations
throughout the area.
Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 12, November 12, 2002