Transcript of oral history interview with Ralph Merrill, D.D.S., M.Sc.D., conducted on March 13, 2017 by Louis G. Terkla, D.M.D.
Ralph Merrill, D.D.S., M.Sc.D., was born in Salt Lake City on December 24, 1932. He decided on a career in dentistry while studying at the University of Denver and during an externship at a Native American hospital in Alaska, his mentor's influence guided him into focusing on surgery. He attended the University of Washington School of Dentistry, completing residencies at Boston City Hospital, Boston University, and Henry Ford Hospital \(Detroit\). Merrill came to OHSU as he wished to work on the academic side of oral surgery and was particularly impressed with the ortho-pathology departments and the possibility of setting up a residency program. He began that as a three-year residency program with three residents; it has evolved into a six-year M.D. program with twelve residents. Merrill's research interests include nerve injuries and repair, infections of native Alaskans, oral cancer, TMJ disorders, and reconstructive and orthognathic surgeries. He was the first in Oregon to do TMJ arthroscopy after gaining experience in Japan. Subjects discussed in this interview include: the Hospital Dentistry Service, creation of the oral and maxillofacial surgery residency program at OHSU, trauma patients and training, accreditation and other challenges with the residency program, connection with Japanese institutions, history of the dental school and buildings, the Rajneeshee movement in Oregon, and his personal life and retirement.