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Anesth Prog. 2011 Summer; 58(2): 106.
PMCID: PMC3198124

Memorial: IFDAS Pioneer Member Professor Emeritus Yasuya Kubota 1928–2010

Yuzuru Kaneko, DDS, PhD

YasuyaYasuya Kubota, Professor Emeritus of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, passed away due to pneumonia in December, 2010. He was born in Mie Prefecture, Japan, in 1928. In 1950, he graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, and obtained a medical license. He immediately entered the Faculty of Dentistry of the University and in 1957 obtained a dental license.

figure i0003-3006-58-2-106-f01
From left to right: Prof J. Weaver, Prof Y. Kubota, Mrs Kubota, and Mrs Weaver at IFDAS 2006 in Yokohama, Japan.

In 1962, the first Department of Dental Anesthesiology in Japan was established in the Faculty of Dentistry of Tokyo Medical and Dental University. Professor Emeritus Kubota, then a member of the Department of Oral Surgery, transferred to the Department of Dental Anesthesiology, where he became a professor 2 years later in 1964. He was appointed Director of the University Hospital Faculty of Dentistry in 1969, and in 1994, he became a Professor Emeritus.

Professor Emeritus Kubota was a great leader who contributed significantly to the establishment of dental anesthesiology in Japan. Today, dental anesthesiology plays an extremely important role in dental treatment in Japan. The control of pain and anxiety in dentistry assures patients of painless and comfortable treatment, and is a major factor in patient safety. It is indispensable for elderly people, patients who are medically compromised, disabled people, and people with dental phobia, among others.

Risky procedures like general anesthesia and intravenous sedation are used by the Japanese Board of Dental Anesthesiologists and the Board Certified Dental Anesthesiology Specialist. For general practitioners, dental anesthesiology is a part of the basic curriculum in which one learns how to assess the general status of a patient and the risk, as well as how to apply local anesthesia or nitrous oxide inhalation sedation safely and effectively.

Professor Emeritus Kubota always took the initiative when the occasion warranted it, eg, when the Japanese Dental Society of Anesthesiology was founded, when it was affiliated with the Japanese Association for Dental Science, when the system for Japanese Board of Dental Anesthesiologists was established. Furthermore, while studying in London, he became acquainted with Society for the Advancement of Anaesthesia in Dentistry (SAAD) members including the late Drs Gerry Holden, Peter Sykes, and Thomas E. McEwan of Eastman Dental Hospital. This led to the foundation of the International Federation of Dental Anesthesiology Societies (IFDAS) in 1982, when, coincidentally, Professor Emeritus Kubota was the President of the 3rd International Congress on Modern Pain Control held in Tokyo. As the first president of IFDAS, he made a tremendous contribution to the subsequent development of IFDAS and received the first Horace Wells Award. He also later received the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology Heidbrink Award.

In the early 1970s, nitrous oxide inhalation sedation was introduced in Japan. Within several years it was added to the treatments covered by national health insurance, which accelerated the spread of its use. The introduction and spread of nitrous oxide sedation resulted from the untiring efforts of Professor Emeritus Kubota as well as members of the Department of Dental Anesthesiology, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, who left us a number of research achievements on sedation.

Dr Kubota attended the meeting of the Japanese Dental Society of Anesthesiology every year. Seated in the middle of the front row, he eagerly listened to lectures all day long. This is an unforgettable scene for me. When I chaired the Congress of the IFDAS held in Yokohama in 2006, he himself made a large donation to substantially support the management of the Congress. I would like to give him my heartfelt thanks.

In the field of dental anesthesiology, we were guided by a great leader with a global perspective, which was fortunate for dentistry. I pray for the repose of the soul of Professor Emeritus Yasuya Kubota, who devoted his life to the development of dental anesthesiology.

Articles from Anesthesia Progress are provided here courtesy of American Dental Society of Anesthesiology