Periodontal Pioneer Robert J. Genco, DDS, PhD, Dies at 80

Dentistry Today


Robert J. Genco, DDS, PhD, a pioneer in periodontal research and a leader in the broad recognition of the perio-systemic link, died on March 6, 2019, at the age of 80.

Genco earned his dental degree from the State University of New York Buffalo School of Dental Medicine in 1964. He then simultaneously pursued both specialized periodontal training and immunology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was mentored by periodontist Dr. Walter Cohen, DDS, and immunologist Fred Karush, PhD. Genco received his certificate in periodontics and doctorate in microbiology and immunology in 1967.

As a result of this unique background, Genco went on to become an internationally recognized expert in oral biology. He was one of the first researchers to connect periodontal disease with other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Also, his more than 370 scientific papers are regarded as some of the most important work establishing a link between periodontal health and systemic health.

Genco’s research earned him many awards, including the 1991 Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Dental Research and the 2003 Norton M. Ross Award from the ADA, as well as the 1993 Gold Medal Award and 2012 Distinguished Scientist Award from the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP).

A seasoned educator, Genco served as chair of the University at Buffalo Oral Biology Department for 25 years and was named Distinguished Professor of Oral Biology, Microbiology, and Immunology in 1994.

For more than 18 years, Genco served as editor in chief of the AAP’s Journal of Periodontology (JOP). He also served on many AAP committees and supported several AAP initiatives, most notably its efforts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to establish a mechanism to measure the prevalence of periodontal disease in the United States adult population.

“There are few periodontists who have impacted dentistry like Bob Genco,” said Kenneth Kornman, DDS, PhD, JOP editor in chief. “His significant and numerous contributions to periodontal science have paved the way for even more groundbreaking research that may positively affect the overall health of millions.”

“The ADA and the entire profession of dentistry lost a giant in Bob Genco,” said ADA executive director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, DMD, MPH. “Bob had a tremendous impact on patient care and the dental research community, and he supported the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs through many years of contributions through his research. He was a man of integrity and a brilliant scholar, and he will be greatly missed.”

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