Dr. Kenji W. Higuchi, an American oral and maxillofacial surgeon, and the man who first devised and gave impetus to the development of the Trefoil system for full-arch mandible rehabilitation, recently became the 11th recipient of the Nobel Biocare Brånemark Osseointegration Award.

The Nobel Biocare Brånemark Osseointegration Award is presented each year by the Osseointegration Foundation (OF), the Academy of Osseointegration’s (AO) philanthropic arm. It honors an individual whose impact on implant dentistry is exemplary in any or all of the Foundation’s mission categories: research, education and charitable causes. Dr. Higuchi has been a force to reckon with in all three areas.

Dr. Higuchi

As a thought leader and innovator, taught and inspired by Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark, Dr. Higuchi has always focused on the patient first. Still active today, he continues to be instrumental in the development of revolutionary forms of treatment that make implant solutions accessible to an ever growing number of patients.

On hearing of the award, Dr. Higuchi said, “I am deeply honored. This is especially gratifying because of my close and long-term relationship with Professor Brånemark.”

Dr. Higuchi played a key role in the original development of Brånemark’s Novum concept, making him the ideal candidate to pick up the torch from the well-known Swedish professor, in order to bring its new incarnation, Trefoil, to doctors and patients around the world today.

Well-deserved recognition

Known not only for his research, but also as an educator of rank and an elder statesman in the profession, he was clearly pleased for the implicit acknowledgement of a job well done.

“It is personally meaningful to be recognized by the Osseointegration Foundation for past involvement in research, education, and humanitarian service,” he said, “as all these activities have been of central importance to me.”

The President of the Osseointegration Foundation, Dr. Edward Sevetz, presented the award to Dr. Higuchi during the Opening Symposium of the Academy’s 2018 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, California.

Introducing the laureate, he said, “Dr. Kenji Higuchi’s professional and personal experiences and characteristics qualify him for being a role model for anyone in the dental healthcare field. Almost 40 years ago, he developed a close working relationship with the discoverer of osseointegration.

“Dr. Higuchi worked side-by-side with Professor Brånemark,” Sevetz continued, “and became one of the earliest surgeons in the U.S. to recognize the breakthrough of osseointegration, and how it would vastly improve the quality of the lives of patients.”

The OF President considers the award winner to be a humanitarian as well as an innovator: “Dr. Higuchi annually took time out of his own private practice to coordinate professional training sessions to ‘raise the bar’ of those wishing to help patients in their own locales.”

Dr. Higuchi is a diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. His private practice (Drs. Higuchi and Skinner PS) emphasized reconstructive oral and maxillofacial surgery. Since 1984, he has been the director of The Spokane Center for Tissue Integrated Reconstruction, and since 2007, Dr. Higuchi and Professor John Brunski, Stanford University, have been the principals in OsseoConception LLC.

From 1986 to 2018, Dr. Higuchi participated in ten separate multi- center prospective clinical trials, most recently relating to his brain-child, the Trefoil system.

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