Fujio Miura, Professor Emeritus of Tokyo Medical and Dental University and known internationally as a leader in orthodontics, passed away peacefully of aspiration pneumonia and heart failure on March 4, 2018, at the age of 92. He had been receiving medical treatment for malignant lymphoma since early 2002. He overcame painful side effects with his strong will and Mrs Miura’s devoted nursing.
Fujio Miura was born on July 12, 1925, in Tokyo. His father was a general practitioner in dentistry. He had 3 brothers; his 2 older brothers were medical doctors, and a younger brother was a pharmacologist. When he graduated from Waseda Middle School in 1943, Fujio wanted to enter the Tokyo Art School. His talent as an artist was already appreciated by his art teacher. However, his father strongly encouraged him to become a dentist. He entered dental school and in 1947 graduated from the Tokyo National Medical and Dental School. Then he chose to study orthodontics under Professor Shinjiro Takahashi.
He was especially interested in the physiologic aspects of orthodontics, including masticatory muscle function. He was one of the first to use electromyography to study oral function. “It was very difficult to use manufactured electrical equipment and materials for experiments in the days right after the second world war,” said Dr Miura. “So I had to make the recording equipment for jaw movement and also needle electrodes to pick up electromyographic recordings by myself.”
In 1949, he became an instructor in the Department of Orthodontics in the School of Dentistry at Tokyo Medical and Dental University. In 1957, he was awarded an MD degree based on his thesis, “Study on the function of the masticatory muscles by way of electromyogram with special reference to those of the masseter, the temporal and the digastric muscles,” which appeared in the Journal of the Japan Stomatological Society (1956;23:291). He became an associate professor in the orthodontic department in 1957.
From 1960 to 1961, he served as a research associate with Professor Albert A. Dahlberg at the Zoller Memorial Dental Clinic, Human Anthropology Department, at the University of Chicago. He joined Dr Dahlberg’s research team to assist in a study of the dental morphology of Native Americans in Arizona. During this period, he took a course on the light wire differential force technique taught by Dr Joseph R. Jarabak (he would later introduce the technique to Japanese orthodontics). When he had free time, he visited orthodontic programs in the Chicago area, where he had the opportunity to learn and exchange ideas about orthodontics.
After Professor Shinjiro Takahashi retired in 1962, Dr Miura succeeded him in the orthodontic department as professor and chair. Over the years, he served on many government committees for dental education and oral health care. With favorable economic conditions in Japan, there was a great increase in the number of dental schools: 11 governmental, 1 provincial, and 17 private schools. To assist this growth, Dr Miura shared his faculty and students with more than half of the new schools.
During the time, he served as president of the Japan Orthodontic Society (1974-1979) and was instrumental in effecting 2 major changes that had been sought by Japanese orthodontists. The first was to obtain permission from the government to allow “orthodontist” to describe private practitioners. The second task was to convince the national social health care service to cover the cost of orthodontic treatment for patients with cleft lip and palate. These 2 accomplishments were extremely important in developing the concept that orthodontic treatment is an integral part of the health care service in Japan. Furthermore, as director of the Dental Hospital of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, he negotiated with and persuaded the University Board, Dental School Professor Committee, and government officers that it is important to educate dental students about orthodontic care for cleft lip and palate patients as well as those with other congenital anomalies. He was also instrumental in establishing the Department of Maxillofacial Orthognathics in the School of Dentistry at Tokyo Medical and Dental University.
His research interests focused on 4 areas: comparative studies on Mongoloid craniofacial morphology, tooth movement, masticatory function, and dental materials for orthodontic treatment. He wtote numerous important articles. After reaching mandatory retirement age, he continued to teach as a guest professor at the dental school of Tsurumi University. He always told us to encourage young faculty and students: “close your eyes to their flaws and bring out the best in them.”
He received many prestigious awards, notably the Medal of Purple Ribbon in 1989 and the Third Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon, in 1995 from the Emperor of Japan. From the American Association of Orthodontists, he received the Louise Ada Jarabak Memorial International Teacher and Research Award in 1984 and, from the American Board of Orthodontics, the Albert Ketcham Memorial Award in 1998. The International Association for Dental Research gave him the Distinguished Service Award in 2007. He also received many visiting professorships and letters of appreciation from dental schools and orthodontic associations all over the world.
He married Chizuko-san in 1962. Their son, Hirotaka, conducts a private orthodontic practice in Tokyo. Dr and Mrs Miura have 3 grandsons, who provided joy as a grandfather to Professor Miura in his later years. He loved his summer house in the Tateshina mountain area and found time to play golf with his friends. We will never forget Mrs Miura’s delicious home-cooked foods. We were often invited to their home for her delicious meals and his wonderful collection of wines. Dr Miura’s hobbies included making pottery and ribbon ties.
The orthodontic community all over the world is truly indebted to Dr Miura, and we all continue to mourn the loss of a scientist, clinician, educator, and leader.
Note: Drs Miura and Takahashi were the subjects of a “Pillars in Orthodontics” article in November 2015 (Kuroda T. Shinjiro Takahashi and Fujio Miura: leaders in orthodontic education and research in Japan. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 2015;148:720-3).