Dr. George Zarb was presented the 2023 AO Achievement Medal Award on June 25, 2023, by the committee chair and past Achievement Medal Award recipient, Dr. Adam Stabholz. Dr. Zarb's remarks are below.
Alpha Omega Dental Society (AO) presented the 2023 Achievement Medal Award to recipient Dr. George Zarb on June 25, 2023, during the AO Toronto Convention. This award is presented to a recipient or organizations that are outstanding for their contributions to dentistry or its allied professions.
Previous Achievement Award Medal awardees include Albert Einstein, Ph.D., Jonas E. Salk, MD ScD, Per-Ingvar Branemark, MD, Ph.D., Harry Sicher, MD, ScD, D.Walter Cohen, DDS, and Ronald Goldstein, DDS.
“The Achievement Medal Award Committee members were highly impressed by Dr. Zarb’s outstanding contribution to dental medicine and education and voted unanimously to have Dr. Zarb’s name added to the prestigious list of Alpha Omega’s Achievement Award Medal recipients,” Professor Adam Stabholz, Former Dean, the Hebrew University-Hadassah, Faculty of Dental Medicine, Past AO International President, and 2012 AO Achievement Award Medal recipient.
“The prosthodontic community globally is very aware of George Zarb's excellent and sustained scholarship, teaching, and service both as a professor at the University of Toronto and as Editor of the International Journal of Prosthodontics, Past-President of the Academy of Prosthodontics and many other key positions. George Zarb received the Order of Canada, a fitting acknowledgment in Canada of the widespread contributions that George Zarb has made to dentistry and healthcare generally,” Dr. Gail Schupak, 2023 Alpha Omega Dental Society International President.
Dr. Zarb's Remarks
Thank you for your very gracious introduction and Alpha Omega’s generosity in granting me this award. I am deeply touched and, for the first time in my life, almost speechless…………but I’ll recover.
A warm welcome to all you out-of-towners and, of course, to the Canadian contingent, several of whom I was privileged to teach throughout my 40-year clinical academic career at the University of Toronto. The latter group survived many lecture-room hours with me; I now hasten to reassure them that today’s presentation is very short.
I chose a career in clinical scholarship by subscribing to the German poet Goethe’s observation that all teaching is a mysterious art since knowledge cannot be put in a mind like coins in a bag. Teaching is all about preparing others for the learning they must do themselves. And at best, clinical teachers are intellectual couriers delivering correct and often provocative news, translating into gratifying deeds for the public we serve - your unique and collective commitment to society.
Much is written about the times in which you now practice your respective areas of expertise. This century is just over two decades old, and the precarity of threats to freedom and safety, plus fiscal upheavals, still challenge our peace of mind. I do not know if these are the best or worst times, but I do know that they are the only times we have.
You must prepare for ongoing stock-taking of where you stand professionally, irrespective of personal times. At the same time, our health sciences continue to evolve, and the framework you will be working in will become even more fluid in the long term. So, remember the old truism – change is inevitable, but learning is optional. Your future is not a blank page; it carries the legacy of history and the potential for change, which must be set in the frame of a broader picture as you adapt to the communities you serve.
My clinical research interests in dental implant solutions stemmed from a collaborative work friendship with a unique Swedish medical scientist - Per-Ingvar Brånemark. He inarguably changed the course of Oro-facial rehabilitation and the career direction of several of us in this room. He showed as others had shown before him and since, that many of the world’s great movements begin with one person’s work, often a single tenacious conviction. And while few have the greatness and opportunity to bend history the way Brånemark and many other scientific researchers did, all of us can work to change a small part of events. And, as well emphasized by Dr. Schupak, the history of your generation of health providers will be written in the totality of those acts.
The Colombian Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote:
What matters in life is not what happened to you but what you remember and how you remember it.
And what I remember today, and with much gratitude, is the several AO members – especially past graduate students from both the Canadian and global scene, who enriched my life with loyal friendship and collegiality. But above all, I remember the late OMFS Gerald Baker, whose long cherished friendship and exemplary professionalism enhanced a memorably productive clinical research partnership.
I will end by quoting the late US Senator Robert Kennedy, who tragically died around the time I started my academic career over a half-century ago, and whose message continues to resonate:
“It is from our many diverse acts of courage, kindness, and belief that human history is shaped. Each time one of us stands up for an ideal or a conviction acts to improve the lot of others, or speaks out against injustice, he or she sends forth a ripple of hope and crosses each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep away walls of ignorance and resistance.”
Our chosen profession has offered us both responsibilities and opportunities to make ripples, above all, to serve. Embracing challenges and professional responsibilities led to your achievements and Alpha Omega's exemplary scholarly legacy.
I feel very privileged to be your colleague today and to share this happy celebration that acknowledges our families' support and love, which enabled us to be here.
Thank you again for this honour. I wish you all much success and serenity in the years ahead.
George Zarb, DDS, MSC. CERT PROSTHODONTICS
About Dr. Zarb
Dr. George Zarb received his BChD magna cum laude from the Royal University of Malta. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and went to the University of Michigan, where he received his MS and DDS. He then undertook further studies in graduate prosthodontics at Ohio State University, earning a Diploma in Prosthodontics and a second MS. This was followed by a Fellowship in the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Canada in 1969.
From 1963 to 1965, Professor Zarb was in private practice in Toronto and taught part-time in the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto. In 1966 he was appointed assistant professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Prosthodontics while maintaining a part-time special practice that extended throughout his career. He was promoted to associate professor and was Head of the Discipline of Prosthodontics from 1971 to his retirement in 2004. He was elevated to full professor in 1972 and, from 1974, was a member of the School of Graduate Studies. From 1997 to 2001, he also held the position of associate dean, Clinical Studies.
Dr. Zarb was a co-founder (and president-elect) of 1973 the Association of Prosthodontists of Canada. He sat on the executive committees of four other bodies, each of which he also served as president: the Canadian Academy of Prosthodontics (1970-1975), the Association of Prosthodontists (1971-1976), the International College of Prosthodontists (1988-1997), and the Academy of Prosthodontists (1989-1998).
He was instrumental in establishing prosthodontics as a recognized specialty in Ontario. At a conference in Toronto 1982, considered the most important of the 11 he organized, he introduced osseointegration to North America. Professor Zarb’s significant contributions to the advancement of discipline have made him one of the most respected scholars in the field of prosthodontics. He has written or edited 15 textbooks, contributed chapters to sixteen others, and authored or co-authored over 150 scientific publications. He has served as an editorial board member of 7 dental journals. He is editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Prosthodontics.