In Memoriam: Dr. Basil Glover Bibby

February 06, 1998

Basil Glover Bibby, Ph.D., D.M.D., former director of the University of Rochester’s Eastman Dental Center (EDC), died on February 4, 1998, at the age of 93.

Dr. Bibby's career spanned six decades of changes in dental research, education, and practice. Through his own activities and the work of former students and colleagues, he was at the forefront of this change.

Dr. Bibby was born in New Zealand, where he grew up in a rural community and graduated from dental school in 1927. He came to the University of Rochester as a Rockefeller Dental Fellow in 1930, where he earned a Ph.D. in bacteriology. From 1940-47 he served as dean at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and returned to Rochester in 1947 to become director of Eastman Dental Center, a post he held until his retirement in 1970. Research flourished under his leadership at EDC, and graduate programs in pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, periodontics, prosthodontics, and general dentistry were developed. These programs all achieved international distinction. Dr. Bibby was respected and loved for more than his research and academic accomplishments. He was willing to take risks with ideas and people. Under his leadership, all ideas were encouraged and the most illogical and ill-founded remark was transformed into something meaningful by his genial style.

Dr. Bibby’s impact on his trainees is personified in the remarks of Domenick Zero, D.D.S., M.S., professor in the Eastman Department of Dentistry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. "I came to the Eastman Dental Center in 1975 fresh out of dental school. After naively expressing some interest in research, I was directed to talk with Dr. Bibby. This was the start of a mentorship and friendship that changed my life and helped lead to a career as a clinical scientist and educator,” said Dr. Zero. “Dr. Bibby had a remarkable ability to challenge, inspire, and encourage, all in the course of a friendly conversation. His love for both research and dentistry made him an ideal mentor and role model. He was truly an extraordinary human being and one of the great men in dentistry.”

Dr. Bibby advanced dentistry as a biologic discipline at a time when the leaders in dental education were technically oriented. The model of integrating biologic and clinical training that he fostered at the University of Rochester, Tufts University, and Eastman Dental Center is so universally accepted at the present time that most of us assume that it never was a contentious issue.

Dr. Bibby made major contributions in three areas: he was credited with first demonstrating that fluoride reactions with the enamel surface would prevent caries; he provided research into the cariogenicity of food; and he advanced knowledge about the role of pellicle, plaque, and oral bacteria. One research contribution of which Dr. Bibby was particularly proud, but is not recorded in any of his research publications, is the important part he played in securing funding for research by Eastman scientists to study the use of adhesive plastic coatings for dental procedures. Today, adhesive plastics are one of the cornerstones of preventive and restorative dentistry.

In 1957, Dr. Bibby was appointed a Regent of the National Library of Medicine by then- President Dwight Eisenhower. He also served as consultant and served on committees for the National Institute of Dental Research, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Dental Association (ADA), and the University of Alabama Dental Research Institute. Dr. Bibby was the recipient of the 1988 ADA Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Dental Research. In addition, he received numerous other honors and awards, held memberships in 17 professional and scientific organizations, and contributed more than 225 publications and 100 abstracts to the dental literature.

Dr. Bibby is survived by his wife Beatrice; a son, Douglas; daughters, Ruth B. Bonn, Anne B. Lesher, and E. Susan Bibby, and 10 grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at the Twelve Corners Presbyterian Church, 1200 South Winton Road, at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, February 9. A reception at the church will follow the service. There will be no calling hours. A tribute to Dr. Bibby is being planned for later in the spring at Eastman Dental Center. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made for dental research to Eastman Dental Center, 625 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, New York 14620.

Eastman Dental Center (EDC) was founded by George Eastman in 1915. More than 80 years later, the EDC continues to serve the needs of the greater Rochester community. The Center's clinics serve more than 25,000 people each year. EDC, a division of the University of Rochester Medical Center, is recognized worldwide as a leader in advanced training for dentists and for dental research.

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