Former Faculty Member, “Founding Father of Dental Infection Control” Crawford Passes Away

On Friday, January 11, former faculty member Dr. James “Jim” Crawford passed away at the age of 81.

Crawford spent 18 years on the school’s faculty in the Department of Endodontics, during which time he rose to the rank of professor. Particularly interested in pathogens, Crawford is considered one of the founders of modern infection control and was called a “contemporary Louis Pasteur” by colleagues. His work in microbiology and infection control impacted the awareness and prevented the spread of diseases like hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS in dentistry.

Due to Crawford’s revolutionary work, the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and PreventionResearch Foundation (OSAP) established the Dr. James J. Crawford Award to honor his lifetime achievements in the field of dental infection control. Additionally, his comprehensive research, recommendations and guidelines have not only been adopted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but also adopted into dental textbooks and everyday dental practices.

“When Dr. Jim Crawford joined the UNC School of Dentistry in 1963, he was as he remained: a gentle man whose thinking about the need for better infection control in dental offices turned out to be prescient,” said the school’s Former Dean John Stamm. “When the HIV/AIDS epidemic broke out in the early- to mid-1980s, many dentists were ill prepared to employ the appropriate infection control measures so essential to treating dental patients safely. At the UNC School of Dentistry, it was Dr. Crawford, in our very midst, who became the instant go-to expert. He calmly and patiently taught our dental professionals, students and staff, many for the second time, about the critical importance of high-quality infection control in the dental office. As faculty, students and staff, we are grateful and proud for all that Jim contributed during his time at the school.”

Crawford, who retired from the school in 1996, is survived by his wife of 30 years, Ann Roach Crawford, of Chapel Hill; his brother, “Bud” Frederick Crawford, of Springfield, Ill.; his six children, Margaret Mason Clemen, James “Jim” Allen Crawford, Catherine “Katie” Crawford Redick, Peter James Crawford, Carol Crawford Brandford and Anna Claire Crawford (from his first marriage to Joyce Clark Allen); and his eight grandchildren.