Walter J. Loesche, DDS
Biologic & Materials Sciences
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Walter J. Loesche, Marcus L. Ward professor of dentistry, professor of dentistry, department of biologic and materials sciences, in the School of Dentistry and professor of microbiology in the Medical School, retired from active faculty status on July 31, 2000.
Dr. Loesche received his B.A. from Yale University in 1957, his D.M.D. from Harvard School of Dental Medicine in 1961, a periodontal certificate from Harvard-Forsyth in 1964, and his Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967. While earning his degrees, he held various research and staff positions at Forsyth Dental Center, Harvard School of Medicine, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the faculty of the School of Dentistry in 1969 as an associate professor of dentistry. In 1971 he was appointed associate professor of microbiology in the Medical School and was promoted to professor of dentistry and professor of microbiology in 1974. Dr. Loesche also served as director of research in the School of Dentistry from 1987 to 1989.
He was a key player in changing our understanding of both caries and periodontal disease to be recognized as bacterial infections. Professor Loesche's research involving bacterial anaerobes and their role in periodontal disease lead to the use of metronidazole or doxycycline as a treatment alternative to surgical intervention to improve periodontal health. He has received numerous honors and awards throughout his career. A most memorable one is an honorary doctorate from the University of Goteborg, Sweden in 1988 when a new species of gram- negative anaerobic rods isolated from the oral cavity was named Bacteroides loescheii, in recognition of his work.
Dr. Loesche has been an important contributor to the School of Dentistry. His appointment as the Marcus L. Ward professor of dentistry, made in 1996, attests to his contributions. The professorship recognizes outstanding intellectual leadership and nationally recognized achievement in research, teaching, and service. Dr. Loesche is an extremely creative and productive researcher. He has had continuous funding since 1970; has published three textbooks, over 170 peer-reviewed articles, and over 50 chapters and invited reviews; and he has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Periodontal Research, Clinical Microbiology, the Journal of Oral Microbiology and Immunology, and Anaerobe. During his tenure at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Dr. Loesche has served as a member of many school and university committees and has served the profession as a member of prestigious committees nationally to include: the International Dental Health Foundation, the Board of Directors of the American Association for Dental Research, the National Institute of Dental Research special grants study section, the International Dental Health Foundation, and currently serves as president of the International Society for Breath Odor Research. In 1995, Dr. Loesche was an integral part of organizing a program held at the International Fluoridation Symposium commemorating 50 years of water fluoridation in Grand Rapids, Michigan and received an award of recognition from the Michigan Dental Association for his efforts.