Dr. William Douglas became a professor in the University of Minnesota’s School of Dentistry and director of the Biomaterials Program in 1978. Dr. Douglas also created the Minnesota Dental Research Center for Biomaterials and Biomechanics (MDRCBB) in 1990. He retired in 2006.
Dr. Douglas begins his interview by describing his early life, education, and the initial trajectory of his career. He discusses building and funding the Biomaterials Program at the University of Minnesota, the clinical applications of the Program’s research, and the creation of the Minnesota dental Research Center for Biomaterials and Biomechanics (MDRCBB) in 1990. As part of this discussion, Dr. Douglas reflects on collaboration between the Biomaterials Program and the basic and applied science departments across the University as well as the program’s work with industry. He also discusses the following topics: Dr. Richard Oliver’s tenure as dean of the School; manpower issues; his work with Dr. Ralph DeLong; the creation and functions of the artificial mouth; the growing use of computing and modeling in the Program’s research; changes in technology; various projects in which the Program participated; strategic planning and Ken Keller’s Commitment to Focus; Dr. Richard Elzay’s tenure as dean; retrenchment within the School; Dr. Michael Till’s tenure as dean; and his experiences with the Minnesota Dental Association and the State Legislature. He concludes with a brief reflection the on the work of his graduate students.
Dr. William Douglas was born and raised in Belfast, Ireland. He attended Queens University, earning a bachelor’s and doctorate (1965) in chemistry. He became interested in dental materials and subsequently attended the dental school at Guy’s Hospital in London, graduating in 1971. He completed an internship at Birmingham Dental School and became an assistant professor at Cardiff in South Wales. He completed a sabbatical year at the University of Michigan’s Dental School. He was recruited to the University of Minnesota’s School of Dentistry in 1978 as professor and director of the Biomaterials Program. After years of expansion, Dr. Douglas created the Minnesota Dental Research Center for Biomaterials and Biomechanics (MDRCBB) in 1990. He retired in 2006.