Former Ostrow Dean Harold Slavkin dies at age 85

Harold Slavkin portrait

John Hobbs MA '14


19 Jan 24

Dean from 2000 to 2008, Slavkin was responsible for further sharpening Ostrow’s focus on scientific inquiry. 

OSTROW HAS LOST A LONGTIME CHAMPION. Former Dean (2000 to 2008) Harold Slavkin died late last year at the age of 85.  

Dr. Slavkin earned his bachelor’s degree in English and Science from USC before completing his doctor of dental surgery degree from USC in 1965. He went on to complete postdoctoral fellowships in cell/cellular biology and anatomical sciences as well as biochemistry and developmental biology. 

He joined the USC dental faculty in 1968, serving as a full-time faculty member for nearly 50 years before retiring in 2014. He was the Dean of the USC School of Dentistry from 2000 to 2008. One of the world’s leading authorities on craniofacial development and genetic birth defects, Dr. Slavkin created USC’s Center for Craniofacial Molecular Biology in 1989 and served as its first director until 1995. His own passion for scientific inquiry was instrumental in sharpening Ostrow’s laser focus on research. 


Sharpening our focus on research


It is because of his leadership and forward-thinking that today the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC is the third highest-funded dental school by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, one of the National Institutes of Health. At USC, he founded the first graduate program in craniofacial biology in the United States. 

Slavkin’s interest in healthcare policy, craniofacial genetics and developmental biology, biomaterials and tissue engineering are reflected in 540 peer-reviewed scientific publications and 75 contributed chapters to books in biomedical research. From 1995 to 2000, he served as the director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Under his leadership, Oral Health in America, the first Surgeon General’s Report to focus exclusively on craniofacial and oral health, was published. His tenure was also marked by the development of the NIDCR’s first strategic plan, the renaming of the Institute to better reflect the scope of its activities and a $110 million funding increase between 1995 and 1999.

Over his illustrious career, Dr. Slavkin earned a number of accolades, including an American Dental Association Gold Medal for Research, the Pierre Fauchard Gold Medal Award, the Gies Award for Education and 10 honorary degrees from Georgetown University, the University of Paris, the University of Maryland, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Mercy Detroit University, the University of Connecticut, the University of Montreal, McGill University, A.T. Stills University and Peking University. 

He was a member of the National Academy of Medicine, a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and of both the American College of Dentists and the International College of Dentists; a member of the American Dental Association, the International Association for Dental Research and numerous other professional and scientific organizations.

In partnership with his family, the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC will be holding a service to honor Slavkin. Details to come soon. 

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