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Honoring Dr. Moorrees, an Orthodontic Legend

Nineteen years have passed since Dr. Coenraad Moorrees passed away but his legacy remains strong. Dr. Moorrees was the Director of Orthodontics at Forsyth from 1948-1989. During this time, he championed innovation in the orthodontics field. He paved the way for orthodontic innovators who would come after him. Dr. Moorrees’ legacy lives on through his students too. Their careers were inspired by his mentorship and they reflect fondly on their memories with him. He was truly a teacher at heart.

At the Forsyth Orthodontic Symposium in Honor of Dr. Moorrees, we heard a handful of his former students testify to his legacy. The memories of people whose lives he impacted will give you a better sense of who he was than any biographical information we can provide. Here are a few of those accounts:

Dr. Ahmet Keles

Teaching Faculty Orthodontics, Harvard School Of Dental Medicine

“My heart goes to Harvard and Forsyth because I came from Turkey in 1990 when Forsyth was in Fenway. Dr. Moorrees was the program director at the time and he was also a full time professor at Harvard University. I was running back and forth between Forsyth and Harvard. We were encouraged to do basic science research at Harvard and almost 100% of the residents were doing their thesis project at Forsyth.

Dr. Moorees, I am so grateful and honored to have been his student. At the time he was inviting students to the Fine Art Museum, as he was very much interested in art. There was a nice restaurant he was always taking us to. He was really like a father and I always considered him my role model.

Dr. Ahmet Keles pointing to the former Forsyth building where he learned from Dr. Moorrees

He came to see my patients at my patient review. That is where you have to bring all your patients before you graduate. My first scientific presentation was at the IAADR meeting in Seattle when I was about 28 years old with this group of people. So that’s where it all started. And my thesis project, I did that at Forsyth.”

*quotes pulled from presentation at Forsyth Orthodontic Symposium

Dr. Vicente Hernandez-Soler

Associate Professor, University of Valencia

“I was fortunate to be the last student of Dr. Moorrees. I have many memories to share. He was like my father when I was at Forsyth. He told me that he moved to the [US] because [he] couldn´t the way he wanted to in Europe. He worked with Ralf Kent, Laure Lebret and An Marie Gron on The Forsyth Twin study for 40 years and we saw the twins coming for their birthday every year for updates.

I worked with diabetic rats with John Heeley’s histology lab and, some days, I left Forsyth late at night. [Dr. Moorrees] was very concerned about my safety walking at night because I was living in Huntington-Roxbury. He called me the day before my thesis defense to encourage and support my thinking during some controversies with my research sponsor Zeev Davidovitch. I remember his words, ‘Tell them what you think, not what others tell you to do.'”

*quotes pulled from written correspondence

Dr. Ravindra Nanda

Professor Emeritus, Past Head of the Department of Craniofacial Sciences and Chair of the Division of Orthodontics, University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine

“My brother, Ram, who happens to be 16 years older than me, came to Forsyth in 1950 from India on a scholarship. He worked with Dr. Moorrees, who was the head of orthodontics at Forsyth. So, when he came back after his PhD, I was still a student for a couple of years in India before I moved to the US. All I heard about was what he learned from Dr. Moorrees.

In early 1967 I went to Holland, for four years as a PhD student. Dr. Moorrees was a very well respected and known orthodontist both for his Dutch heritage and contributions. I met him and heard him give some classic research and clinical lectures. I still remember my personal interaction with him. He was a role model for someone like me in 1967 to follow his research journey and incorporate in my own work.

Dr. Ravindra Nanda giving a history of Dr. Moorrees’ life

I think Dr. Moorrees was a visionary because he involved himself with orthodontic research back when it was not in fashion. He did some classic work on the development of dentition; he wrote a book on this subject too which is still valid today. He also started longitudinal twin studies of how the growth and development of the face takes place.”

*quotes pulled from full interview.

Dr. Kang Ting

Executive Director, The International Orthodontics Foundation; Adjunct Faculty, The Forsyth Institute

“Dr. Moorrees would send his students to the Museum of Fine Arts to look at a famous painting or portrait and draw the facial profile. He was really one of the first people at that time to pay attention to the facial profile more than just dentition.

A second thing I remember about him is his true impact on research on mixed dentition growth development in dental arch and width. That lay the foundation for a lot of dentition treatment that saves a lot of extractions from kids and preserves their profile.

I think his articles and his research to date are still necessary material for us to read and memorize in every single program. He was a true artist, scientist, clinician, and teacher. And I am so grateful to Forsyth, for having this symposium in honor of him after all he has done for everyone in the field. I wonder if he saw what we were talking about today, what he would say, and how would he feel?”

Dr. Kang Ting taking a moment as a session moderator to speak about Dr. Moorrees

*quotes pulled from presentation at Forsyth Orthodontic Symposium

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