WILLIAM HERBERT ROLLINS (1852-1929)
Dr. William H. Rollins has been called by many "dentistry’s forgotten man” as he has received very little fame and recognition as one of the pioneers in oral and maxillofacial radiology.
Dr. Rollins was a graduate of the Harvard Dental and Medical Schools. He practiced dentistry in the Boston area. In July 1896, eight months after Roentgen’s discovery, he designed, made, used and published a description of an intra-oral cassette and oral fluoroscope. While working with x rays in 1898, he suffered severe burns to his hand. Dr. Rollins was among the first to warn about the adverse effects of radiation and urged the use of the least exposure possible to make diagnoses. He experimented with the effects of radiation on guinea pigs and published in 1901 a paper describing the adverse effects of radiation on the guinea pigs. He suggested, also in 1901, that anyone working with x rays should wear leaded glasses, enclose the x-ray tube in a leaded box and to cover all areas of the body not being radiographed with a radiopaque shield. He published a series of over 200 articles warning of the possible dangers of the x-ray beam. For many years his suggestions were ignored.
Today, however, his accomplishments are belatedly recognized. Dr. Rollins has become known as the father of radiation protection. He was a member of the Radiological Society of North America, and was its first Treasurer. He was a remarkable man, born perhaps a century ahead of his time. To honor his contributions to radiation biology and radiation research, the Academy established an award in his name to reward outstanding research by a graduate student. The award is sponsored by Instrumentarium Imaging.