On the death of Prof. Dr. Wilfried Schilli

May 29th, 1928 – September 29th, 2019

13 January 2020

Prof Wilfried Schilli

Prof. Dr. Wilfried Schili, 1928 – 2019 (Photo by courtesy of Dr. Georg Bach)

Prof. Dr. Wilfried Schilli, Emeritus Director of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University Medical Center Freiburg, died on 29 September 2019 at the age of ninety-two.

Born in Offenburg in 1928, he was drafted in 1944 while still at school and, after returning from the war, trained as a dentist in the turmoil of the post-war period. From 1949–1955 he studied medicine and dentistry in Freiburg. After working as an assistant in internal medicine, otorhinolaryngology and gynecology, he spent two years as scientific coworker in the pathology department with Franz Büchner in Freiburg. In 1958, he began his training for oral and maxillofacial surgery in Freiburg and in 1962 he spent five months as a guest surgeon at several Universities in India. In 1963, he habilitated with the work "The Differentiation of the Oral Floor Epithelium" with Josef Eschler. In 1970, he was appointed chair of oral and maxillofa-cial surgery as Josef Eschler's successor. His talent as a speaker, organizer, negotiator and planner was recognized early, so the Medical Faculty as well as national and international societies entrusted him with important tasks and projects. For several years he received the conference prize for the best lecture from the Working Group for Oral Surgery within the German Society for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (“Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Kieferchirurgie”).

In 1971 he became secretary, in 1973 chairman of this group.

In 1973 and 1974 the Medical Faculty of the University Medical Center Freiburg elected him Dean. In 1977 he took over the position of President of the German Society for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, after having hosted the congress of this society in 1976 in Freiburg. In 1983, he became Director of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Freiburg. In the same year, he chaired the World Congress of the International Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons in Berlin.

Prof. Schilli has published more than 150 scientific papers and had published more than 10 book and manual contributions. He has been a member of the Association for the Study of Internal Fixation (AO) since 1973 and had been significantly involved in fracture care, particularly in the midface. At that time, Prof. Schilli pioneered midface osteosynthesis with miniature plates. The Freiburg tension band plate was a major contribution made by Prof. Schilli and his colleagues in the field of mandibular traumatology.

Prof. Schilli also had a great influence on the development and improvement of dental implants, so that he was elected President of the International Team for Oral Implantology for many years since 1992. His experience and advice were of outstanding importance not only to this group later.

Prof. Schilli dedicated himself with great commitment to humanitarian tasks and operated with the renowned group "Médecins du Monde" on children with malformations in India and Cambodia.

Prof. Schilli has shaped the image of German oral and maxillofacial surgery abroad like no other. He has set international standards for innovative treatments in our field of expertise. He was a real diplomat of the University Medical Center Freiburg as well as specialty of maxillofacial surgery worldwide. In addition, Prof. Schilli has always been a true European and cosmopolitan, whose rich social life and cultural diversity made him a honest and experienced advisor for friends and colleagues. We are missing a visionary surgeon and a good friend, a loving family man and, in the true sense of the word, an academic polymath.

Prof. Dr. Dr. Rainer Schmelzeisen, MD, DDS, PhD, FRCS (London)
Professor and Chairman
University Medical Center Freiburg
Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Daniel Buchbinder, DMD, MD
Professor and System Chief
Division of Maxillofacial Surgery
Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
Mount Sinai Health System
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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