Bulletin of Dental Education

Former Dean of the University of Washington SOD, Dr. Karl-Åke H. Omnell, Dies at 88

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OmnellKarl-Åke H. Omnell, D.D.S., Ph.D., former Dean of the University of Washington School of Dentistry (UW SOD), passed away at his home on Camano Island in Washington. As the Dean of UW SOD from 1981 to 1992, Dr. Omnell set high standards for clinical competence and stressed the importance of research in dental education.

Dr. Omnell’s 11-year tenure as Dean featured several signature achievements, including establishment of the School of Dentistry’s oral radiology program.

“All of us connected with the School are saddened by the loss of one of our most outstanding leaders,” says Joel H. Berg, D.D.S., M.S., Dean of UW SOD. “Dr. Omnell set exacting standards in clinical education and, as an outstanding researcher in his own right, fully appreciated the value of clinical research in training new dentists.”

Paul Robertson, D.D.S., M.S., Dean Emeritus, Dr. Omnell’s successor and friend, says that Dr. Omnell made the deanship transition a pleasure. “He was kind and caring and a superb mentor. He was honest and highly ethical, and his primary concern was for his faculty and the students. He often said that his primary goal was to educate the best general dentists in the United States, if not the world.”

Dr. Omnell came to the University of Washington from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) in Bethesda, MD, where he was Clinical Director and Chief of the Clinical Investigations and Patient Care Branch. He already enjoyed an international reputation in oral radiation and radiation biology research.

A native of Sweden, Dr. Omnell received his D.D.S. from the Royal Dental School in Stockholm in 1950, along with a degree in odontology from the University of Lund in Malmo in 1957. He became a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology in 1982 and a Fellow of the International College of Dentists in 1984.

He held faculty appointments at a series of schools in Sweden from 1950 to 1974, serving as Dean of the University of Lund School of Dentistry from 1971 to 1974. He also served as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine from 1960 to 1961 and as a visiting scientist with National Institutes of Health from 1961 to 1962. In 1958, he received the Swedish Dental Association Prize for the most important scientific contribution to Swedish dentistry in 1956–57.

He authored or co-authored several dozen journal papers and presented research or lectured in countries all over the world, including Brazil, Germany, Japan, China, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

Published on August 12, 2015.
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