News & Events

Jonathan A. Ship: Profile in Courage

May 6, 2008

Dr. Jonathan A. Ship, a Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Radiology & Medicine at the NYU College of Dentistry, Director of NYU’s Bluestone Center for Clinical Research, and the NYU PEARL Network Chair, passed away on April 18, 2008. He was 49 years old. Dr. Ship had fought a courageous battle against lung cancer for more than a year. Throughout his illness, he retained his spectacular intelligence, humor, humanity, optimism, and compassion, and in the process he taught everyone around him to live each day to the fullest. He was a peerless colleague and friend. He was one of a kind. Dr. Ship earned both his undergraduate and dental degrees at the University of Pennsylvania, which last May presented him its Alumni Award of Merit. He completed a General Practice Residency at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, and a Fellowship in Oral Research at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. From 1989-1992, he was a Senior Investigator at the NIDCR and Director of the Oral Medicine Fellowship Program. He was also the Principal Investigator on several NIDCR clinical investigations examining the role of aging on oral physiology. From 1992 until he joined NYU in 2000, Dr. Ship was at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor as a Professor and Vice Chair of Oral Medicine/Oncology, Director of Hospital Dentistry, and Director of the Program in Geriatric Dentistry and Oral Medicine. In addition to his teaching and administrative responsibilities at the NYU College of Dentistry, he was also a Professor of Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Ship’s research focused on gaining a better understanding of the influence of aging, systemic diseases, and medications on oral health and function. As director of NYU’s Bluestone Center for Clinical Research, Dr. Ship was responsible for formulating and implementing a program to establish collaborative links among the Bluestone Center, the NYU dental faculty, the practicing community, and the pharmaceutical industry, by leveraging the research potential of the NYU College of Dentistry’s enormous, diverse patient population. A high point in Dr. Ship’s career, and in the history of the NYU College of Dentistry, occurred in April 2006, when he was the Principal Investigator on a $26.7 million NIDCR grant to establish a regional practice-based research network (PBRN) at NYU. Known as the PEARL Network, the project links private dental offices in research projects. This was the largest-ever NIDCR grant and the largest grant ever received by any school at New York University. Dr. Ship was Executive Director of the PEARL Network from its inception. Dr. Ship was a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Medicine, a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, a board examiner for the American Board of Oral Medicine and the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, and a recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the International Association for Dental Research Geriatric Oral Research Award, a Fellowship in Dental Surgery awarded by the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, and the Samuel Charles Miller Award presented by the American Academy of Oral Medicine. Last May he was named a third editor of the 11th edition of Burket’s Oral Medicine: Diagnosis and Treatment. Dr. Ship published published 22 book chapters, a monograph on “Oral Health in Geriatric Patients,” and 102 peer-reviewed papers.

“Jonathan Ship accomplished more in his brief lifetime than most people do in many more years,” said Dr. Charles N. Bertolami, the Herman Robert Fox Dean of the NYU College of Dentistry. “Over the past 16 months of his illness, his bravery, nobility, and grace were extraordinary. He never slowed down and he never lost his sense of humor. Indeed, his productivity and his kindness – always amazing – seemed to increase. It can truly be said of Jonathan Ship that he was the best our profession has to offer. His passing leaves us heartbroken.”  

Elyse J. Bloom
Assistant Dean for Communications and Public Affairs
New York University, College of Dentistry