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Gerald Bernard Winter

 
 


Former professor of paediatric dentistry London (b London 24 November 1928; q London Hospital 1958), d 22 December 2002.

Professor Gerald Bernard Winter was the father of paediatric dentistry in Britain. From the time of his appointment as professor and honorary consultant in children’s dentistry at the Institute of Dental Surgery at London University in October 1966, he singlemindedly spearheaded a personal campaign to improve the dental health of children, and the dental services available to them in this country. His approach was primarily an educational one. In the clinic he was a hard taskmaster, never accepting anything less than the best. But he was revered by his postgraduate students who came from all over the world to attend the MSc course in children’s dentistry at the Eastman, the dental hospital associated with the Institute of Dental Surgery in Gray’s Inn Road, London. He was instrumental in developing the careers of many junior staff, who subsequently obtained senior academic or hospital appointments in this country and abroad.

Gerry Winter was born in the East End, the only son of Maurice and Edith Winter, descendants of late 19th century Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants from Russia, Poland, and Austria. He graduated BDS from the dental school at the London Hospital in 1955, before completing his medical degree there in 1958. He gained the diploma in child health in 1960 and the fellowship in dental surgery (England) in 1962. He held a lectureship in children’s dentistry at the Royal Dental Hospital from 1959 to 1962, before being appointed to a consultant post at the Eastman Dental Hospital. He was greatly influenced by the then dean of the institute, the late Sir Robert Bradlaw, who recognised the drive, honesty, plain speaking, and the desire to serve and care for others, especially the underprivileged, that were hallmarks of Gerry Winter’s character. He was appointed sub-dean at the Institute of Dental Surgery in October 1972, a post he held for 11 years before serving two five year terms as dean and director of studies from 1984 to 1994.

His undergraduate career in both dentistry and medicine gave him a breadth of understanding that enabled him to make such contributions as "The teeth in dermatological disease" (1985), the "Association of ocular defects with the otodental syndrome" (1983), and "Dental problems in epidermolysis bullosa" (1990). However, his major clinical interest was in genetic disorders affecting the teeth (imperfect enamel), including "Amelogenesis imperfecta in triplets—a unique family record" (1995) and "Characterisation of molecular defects in X-linked amelogenesis imperfecta" (1995). He was always concerned about the practical support required for families with children often affected by multiple disabilities.

He represented the British Paedodontic Society (now the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry) on the specialist advisory committee in orthodontics, the Royal College of Surgeons of England, from 1973 to 1985 and was instrumental in developing paediatric dentistry as an independent specialty, recognised by the Department of Health. He served as honorary secretary of the British Paedodontic Society from 1961 to 1964 and of the International Association of Dentistry for Children from 1971-9, and inaugural chairman of the British Society of Dentistry for the Handicapped (1976-7) and of the Consultants in Paediatric Dentistry (1989-94). He is the only person to become president of the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry twice—in 1970-1 and in his retirement year, 1993-4. He was presented with the President’s Medal by HRH the Princess Royal at the 17th congress of the International Association of Paediatric Dentistry in London in 1999.

In his retirement he became director of the Oral and Dental Research Trust supporting young research workers in the field. Gerry Winter is survived by his wife, Eva, whom he married in 1960, and by his son and daughter. [J J Murray, Jane R Goodman]