George Albert Zarb was born in Valetta, Malta on 28 October 1938. He completed high school at the Lyceum in 1954 and subsequently received his BChD magna cum laude from the Royal University of Malta in 1960. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and went to the University of Michigan from which he received his MS in 1962 and his DDS in 1963. He then undertook further studies in graduate prosthodontics at Ohio State University, earning a Diploma in Prosthodontics and a second MS in 1966. This was followed by a Fellowship in the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Canada in 1969.
From 1963 to 1965, Professor Zarb was in private practice in Toronto and taught part-time in the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto. In 1966 he was appointed assistant professor at the U of T in the Department of Prosthodontics, while maintaining a part-time special practice that extended throughout his career. In 1968 he was promoted to associate professor and, from 1971 to his retirement in 2004, he was Head of the Discipline of Prosthodontics. He was elevated to full professor in 1972, and from 1974 was a member of the School of Graduate Studies. From 1997 to 2001, he also held the position of associate dean, Clinical Studies. During his years at the University of Toronto, Professor Zarb held some sixty formal positions on campus; he sat on many administrative committees and task forces, and chaired numerous search committees.
Professor Zarb has also played an active and internationally recognized role in national and international prosthodontic organziations. He was a co-founder (and president-elect) in 1973 the Association of Prosthodontists of Canada. He sat on the executive committees of four other bodies, each of which he also served as president: the Canadian Academy of Prosthodontics (1970-1975), the Association of Prosthodontists (1971-1976), the International College of Prosthodontists (1988-1997), and the Academy of Prosthodontists (1989-1998).
He was instrumental in the establishment of prosthodontics as a recognized specialty in Ontario and at a conference in Toronto in 1982, considered the most important of the 11 he organized, he introduced osseointegration to North America. Professor Zarb’s major contributions to the advancement of the discipline has made him one of the most respected scholars in the field of prosthodontics. He has written or edited 15 textbooks, contributed chapters to sixteen others, and authored or co-authored over 150 other scientific publications. He has served as an editorial board member of 7 dental journals and is editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Prosthodontics.
Professor Zarb’s prodigious output and many personal connections worldwide has made him a much sought-after speaker at conferences, where he has often delivered the keynote address. Over the thirty-year period between 1973 and his retirement in 2004 he held over 80 visiting professorships, in 20 countries other than Canada, including a dozen American states. He has hardly slowed down in retirement, continuing to lecture widely and to do some teaching and organizing biennial Workshops for Young Prosthodontic Educators from the global academic community. This initiative is the result of his forging a partnership between the editorial team in the IJP and the Karlsruhe Academy in Karlsruhe Germany. Since their inception in 2006, the Workshops have also been held in Asia – Beijing, Seoul and Kyoto.
Many honour have been bestowed on Professor Zarb in recogniztion of his work. He has received honorary degrees from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden; Dalhousie University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Montreal in Canada; the University of Malta; and the University of Turin. He has also received numerous honorary fellowships and awards from universities and professional organizations, including the Academy of General Dentistry, Harvard University, the Canadian Dental Association (twice), the Greater New York Academy of Prosthodontics (where he is the only recipient of its three awards), the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of England, the American Prosthodontic Society, and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. In 1993 he received the International Association for Dental Research Award in Prosthodontics and Implant Surgery.
Professor Zarb lives in Toronto, but spends the coldest winter months in his beloved Malta with his wife Janet. Dentistry has surrounded him most of his life and is reflected in other members of his extended family. As Professor Zarb himself pointed out, “There are 4 Zarb dentists [including himself] and all are Prosthodontists - quite confusing!”: his brother, Francis (DDS, U of T, 1966), his son; George (DDS, SUNY; MSc, Chapel Hill, NC); his nephew John (DDS, University of Detroit Mercy; MSc, U of T).