Dr. Robert Isaacson of Edina, Minnesota died on September 15 at age 86.
Born in New York and raised in New Jersey, Dr. Isaacson completed his dental education and the orthodontic residency program at the University of Minnesota. He joined the faculty of the UM Orthodontic Department beginning in 1962 and became the chairman of the department in 1965.
In 1977, Dr. Isaacson became a full professor and chair of the Department of Growth and Development at the University of California – San Francisco, where he remained until 1987. He then moved to lead the orthodontic program at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, staying until 2000.
While at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Isaacson received a $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study how the jaw moves. He also led development of a UM program through which dental students also receive a Ph.D. in science. Dr. Isaacson published more than 500 articles in the AJO-DO, The Angle Orthodontist and other prestigious publications.1
In 2000, Dr. Isaacson was appointed editor-in-chief of The Angle Orthodontist, the journal of the Edward H. Angle Society, succeeding Dr. David Turpin in that position. Dr. Isaacson stayed at the journal until 2012, leading its transition to the digital age including placement of all past content online and making the content open and free. As he prepared to retire in 2012, he was engaged in launching a new app for the journal. Dr. Turpin had introduced a peer-review process to the journal and Dr. Isaacson further intensified the scientific requirements for publication in the journal while also working with volunteers from the Angle Society on fund-raising to support the publication.2
Dr. Isaacson was a recipient of the American Board of Orthodontics Albert H. Ketcham Award. He gave the John Valentine Mershon Lecture at the 2003 American Association of Orthodontists Annual Session. In 2009, the AAO named its annual Orthodontic Educational Leadership Conference in his honor.
1. Howatt, G. “A beloved mentor, he mixed engineering with dentistry.” Minneapolis Star-Tribune, October 1, 2018.
2. Isaacson, R.J. (2012). “A New Era.” The Angle Orthodontist: May 2012, Vol. 82, No. 3, pp. 572-572.