A pioneer in oral health, Anthony R. Volpe was one of the first to empirically prove that brushing your teeth does much more than give you fresh breath. A retired dentist, professor, and vice president of worldwide clinical research at Colgate-Palmolive, Volpe’s breakthrough clinical studies for Colgate-Palmolive proved instrumental in the company’s earliest efforts to show that mouthwash and toothpaste products can effectively prevent tooth decay and gum disease. His lifetime of study and achievements related to oral health recently led the American Dental Association Foundation to name the Dr. Anthony Volpe Research Center, a facility on the National Institutes of Standards and Technology’s Gaithersburg, Maryland, campus, in his honor. Volpe served as president of the foundation from 1997 through 2003.
Volpe was a member of the inaugural class of what is now the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. He later opened a dental practice in Nutley, New Jersey, and taught pharmacology at Fairleigh Dickinson University before joining Colgate-Palmolive, where he worked for more than 50 years. While there, he co-created the Volpe-Manhold Index, a now-standard method of measuring dental tartar.
Dedicated to educating people about the link between oral health and overall health, Volpe has presented to more than 100 dental schools and congresses worldwide and authored over 200 research articles published in scientific journals. A dedicated mentor, he helped create the New Jersey Dental School’s New Horizons program, which introduces current students to dentistry careers that transcend private practice, such as clinical studies, military work, and forensics. A member of the school’s advisory board since it began nearly 10 years ago, he was a strong supporter of its Oral Health Pavilion and interdisciplinary clinic in Newark, and has regularly helped secure support from Colgate-Palmolive, whether in the form of oral health products for school children and senior citizens or a mobile unit for researchers to study periodontal disease in African-American adolescents. He has been very active with the New Jersey Dental Alumni Association, which presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013, and he is still active in the department of periodontology at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine. Additional honors include a dental degree certification from the University of Rome and the 2012 William J. Gies Award from the American Dental Education Foundation. The Anthony and Marlene Volpe Gallery at the Zimmerli Art Museum showcases exhibits of European works on paper, and the Volpes support children’s programs at the museum as well.