In Memoriam: S. Julian Gibbs, PhD


by A. Bertrand (Randy) Brill and Ronald Price

Longtime Vanderbilt faculty member S. Julian Gibbs, DDS, PhD, professor of radiology and radiological sciences, emeritus, died 25 October 2012. His love of family survives him with his wife of 54 years, Emily; his children, Phillip (Toynia), Stephen, and Julie (Kevin Tahmoush); and his grandchildren, Madison, Brenna, and Aydan Gibbs and Benjamin, Jackson, and Luke Tahmoush.

A native of northwest Alabama, Julian studied sciences at the University of Alabama and received his DDS from Emory University in 1956. After serving in the U.S. Air Force and practicing dentistry in Vernon, Alabama, near his family home, Julian developed an interest in the intersection of radiation biology and dentistry.

He received his PhD from the University of Rochester, New York, in 1969 and joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1970. His early research centered on the radiation dose to patients from medical and dental radiologic procedures, and he was a pioneer in applying computational techniques to studies of radiation dose distribution to critical organs. More recently, Julian focused on research involving magnetic resonance imaging of the temporomandibular joint and localized spectroscopy. During his career, he authored or coauthored more than 150 articles, chapters, and presentations.

Julian joined the Health Physics Society in 1979 and was a member until 2008. He was a diplomate and former president of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, a fellow and former president of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology (AAOMR), and a member of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements.

Among his many interests, Julian was a passionate supporter of the Boy Scouts of America for over 40 years and served as a coordinator of achievement and advancement at the local and national levels. He was also especially fond of bow ties, everything associated with Vanderbilt, and choral music and enjoyed participating in the choir of Belle Meade United Methodist Church, where he was a member for 42 years.

His colleagues at Vanderbilt remember Julian as a kind friend and wonderful person who was an internationally recognized medical scientist who performed pioneering research in radiation biology as related to therapy and imaging. They also acknowledge that he was a pioneer in the development of magnetic resonance imaging techniques that are now in common use in dentistry. His colleagues are unanimous in proclaiming, "He will be greatly missed."