Wednesday, February 16, 2022

by Christine White

When L. Bodine Higley (’26 DDS) graduated with a D.D.S. from Iowa in 1926, he was promptly hired by the college to assist with predoctoral clinical teaching and developing a new orthodontics graduate program. He also began conducting research.

In 1930, Higley was promoted to assistant professor. He was appointed as acting head of orthodontics in 1936 and remained head until 1953.

The Depression resulted in enrollment decline and lower salaries, but Higley’s research continued. Using x-ray cephalometry to measure craniofacial proportions during childhood growth, he also created his own type of cephalostat to accurately measure children’s orofacial development.

In 1946, Higley and Howard V. Meredith, an assistant professor with the Iowa Child Welfare Research Station developed the Iowa Facial Growth Study. This longitudinal study included 183 Caucasian subjects between the ages of three and five years. Collecting subjects’ records (height, weight, diet, medical history, dental models, photographs and radiographs) continued until 1960 when many subjects reached eighteen years of age. In 1968, a small group of previous subjects with a minimum age of twenty-three participated in an additional study; follow-up records were also made during their middle adulthood. Today, the Iowa Facial Growth Study continues to provide additional data for research.

For years, Higley received numerous job offers from other dental schools but remained at Iowa despite a lower salary. In 1953, after being elected to a seven-year term as a director of the American Board of Orthodontics, he left for the University of North Carolina.

L. Bodine Higley died in 1990 around the age of 91.