Thomas G.H. Diekwisch, D.M.D., Ph.D. (sc.), Ph.D. (phil.), is Professor and Head, Department of Oral Biology, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry; Allan G. Brodie Endowed Chair for Orthodontic Research; Director, Brodie Laboratory for Craniofacial Genetics; Professor of Anatomy, Cell Biology, Bioengineering, and Periodontics; Member, Center for Molecular Biology of Oral Diseases; and Member, Graduate Faculty, at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Birth and genealogy
Thomas Gustav Heinrich Diekwisch was born on February 27, 1961, in Bielefeld, West Germany. The two middle names correspond to his two grandfathers’ first names. Diekwisch is a common name in Northern Germany and translates into “meadow by the lake”. In the 1840s and again in the 1920s, members of the Diekwisch family moved from Germany to the United States, mostly to Illinois. Thomas Diekwisch’s parents are Annelore Spruch and Gerd Diekwisch, also from Bielefeld and born in 1930 (father) and 1933 (mother). His mother’s parents were Heinrich and Else Spruch from Bielefeld-Quelle, and his father’s parents were Gustav and Frieda Diekwisch from Bielefeld-Kammeratsheide/Heepen.
The Spruch and Diekwisch families in Bielefeld belonged to a staunchly social democratic community in Westphalia and risked their lives by retaining SPD party membership, opposing the Nazis, and supporting the Allies during World War II. Other members of the Spruch family emigrated to Israel after 1933. Thomas Diekwisch grew up in Quelle, a suburb of Bielefeld, together with his parents and the Spruch family. Grandfather Heinrich Spruch owned a small factory and instilled in Thomas the love for biology and science in general. All three generations did not serve in the military: Heinrich Spruch was exempted from military service during the war, Gerd Diekwisch belonged to the white generation being 15 years old when the war ended, and Thomas Diekwisch was exempted from military service in the Federal Republic of West Germany (BRD). Only grandfather Gustav was drafted, immediately transported to the Russian front, captured upon arrival, and detained in Siberia for the remainder of the war.
Academic credentials and career
After attending the Gymnasium in Brackwede-Bielefeld, Diekwisch immatriculated at the Philipps-University of Marburg in Hesse, where he graduated with a doctorate in dental medicine (1986, D.M.D.), a Ph.D. in anatomy (1988, "summa cum laude"), and a Ph.D. in philosophy (2005, “magna cum laude”). From 1986 to 1990, Diekwisch worked as a lecturer, clinical instructor, and research associate in the Departments of Anatomy and Periodontics at the Philipps-University. In 1990, he became a postdoctoral fellow in craniofacial biology at the University of Southern California. In 1994, he joined the faculty of Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, TX, where he created a community science education outreach program entitled “Habitat for Science” that won awards from the Texas Alliance Legislative Conference on Science, Technology & Mathematics Education, and from the Sid W. Richardson Fellowship.
Current position and interests
In 2001, Diekwisch was recruited to the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry to become the first Director of the Brodie Laboratory for Craniofacial Genetics and the Allan G. Brodie Endowed Chair. Two years later, he was appointed professor and head of the Department of Oral Biology at the UIC College of Dentistry. Besides Oral Biology, Dr. Diekwisch holds appointments in anatomy and cell biology, bioengineering, orthodontics, and periodontics. Diekwisch discovered and characterized a gene, CP27 that plays an important role in craniofacial development. Other research areas include the development and evolution of tooth enamel and periodontal tissues as well as craniofacial tissue engineering.
- "World-Class Researcher Hired to Direct Brodie Laboratory," Alumni Report Magazine, Fall-Winter 2001-2002