Larry L. Hench, PhD, passed away on December 16, in Ft. Myers, FL, at the age of 77. Collectively (and for many of us personally), we have lost a wonderful and treasured friend, colleague, mentor, and staunch supporter of the Society For Biomaterials (SFB) and International Society for Ceramic in Medicine (ISCM) and the field of biomaterials and their applications more broadly. At the time of his death, Larry was University Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Florida Institute of Technology College of Engineering, and Director of the Florida Tech Center for Medical Materials and Photonics. Born in Ohio in 1938, Larry received his bachelor’s degree in 1961 and doctoral degree in 1964 in ceramic engineering from The Ohio State University. After 32 years on the faculty, he retired from the University of Florida as Emeritus Professor to join the Imperial College, University of London, as chair of ceramic materials. There, he co-founded and co-directed the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Centre for 10 years. Larry made many and seminal contributions to the field of bio-ceramics. In 1969 he discovered Bioglass, the first man-made material to bond to living tissues, which is now clinically used throughout the world to repair bones, joints and teeth. Discoveries made by Hench and his colleagues in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in numerous Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approvals. In the mid-‘80s the FDA approved the use of bioactive glass devices to reconstruct the ossicular chain (part of the middle ear) and restore hearing. A subsequent FDA approval led to bioactive glass implants to replace teeth, maintain jaw stability and repair maxillo-facial bone defects. In the ‘90s the FDA approved the use of a particulate form of bioactive glass that led to regenerating new bone to repair bone defects caused by periodontal disease. Numerous other FDA approved applications were in orthopedic surgery, including repair of bone defects following revision surgery of failed hip and knee prostheses, and spinal repair. Twelve companies have been founded based upon technology created in Hench’s laboratories and the commercial products have led to numerous advanced technology awards. A person with a great sense of humor, and also the ability to relate science to lay audiences, he authored a series of children’s books featuring Boing-Boing the Bionic Cat and educational materials such as workbooks, experiment books and hands-on kits to stimulate interest in science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM). Larry Hench was a founder and Past-President of the Society For Biomaterials (1979-80), and founder of ISCM and past president of Bioceramic ISCM meeting in 1995. He served on and had leadership responsibilities on many committees and he received SFB’s Clemson Award for Basic Research in 1977 and the Founders Award in 1998. Larry earned many international awards, published 800 research papers, 30 books and has 32 U.S. patents. was a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). He was also a member of the World Academy of Ceramics and a fellow of numerous professional societies including the American Ceramic Society, Society of Glass Technology, and Institute of Materials. He was a Distinguished Life Member of the American Ceramic Society, the Society’s highest award, and has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering by the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology. Most recently, he was awarded the highly acclaimed international 2014 Acta Biomaterialia Gold Medal Award, which recognizes lifetime excellence in research and development in the field of biomaterials.
Submitted by Dr. Frederick Schoen (Society for Biomaterials USA) and Guy Daculsi (ISCM)