In 1926 American innovator, entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman donated £200,000 to fund a dental clinic in London.
Eastman had already funded a Dental Dispensary devoted to the oral health of children in his home town of Rochester, New York. This institution offered the first structured training programmes in dentistry for children and stressed science-based medical education.
On 20 November 1931, its London counterpart, the Eastman Dental Clinic opened in front of Neville Chamberlain and the American Ambassador. The clinic was part of the Royal Free Hospital and was committed to providing dental care for disadvantaged children from central London.
In 1948, the Eastman became independent of the Royal Free and its teaching arm became the Postgraduate Dental Institute of the Postgraduate Medical Federation. The objectives of the Institute were to:
- Train consultants, specialists and teachers in various branches of dentistry;
- Provide facilities for, and research by, members of staff and students;
- Provide clinical and laboratory facilities, and instruction for candidates working for higher degrees or diplomas;
- Provide short courses for general practitioners.
In 1992 the Institute was renamed the Eastman Dental Institute.
In 1996 the Eastman Dental Hospital (EDH) joined the UCL Hospitals Trust becoming part of a large network of surgical and medical excellence. The Institute subsequently became part of University College London and an integral part of the Faculty of Medical Science in August 1999. In 2003 we were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.
In the past decade, amongst many achievements, the Institute upgraded its CPD facilities, extended the portfolio of programmes to take account of the needs of professionals who want a flexible learning process and published ground breaking research which was recognised by the securement of funding for an NIHR BRC Oral Theme. UCL Eastman was also awarded Athena Swan Silver in recognition of its strategy to enhance the lives of females in academia.
In 2017 we were ranked 6th in the world for Dentistry in the QS Rankings.
In 2018 we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Eastman as an independent Dental Institute dedicated to outstanding postgraduate training and innovative, translational research.
256 Gray's Inn Road
The Royal Free / Eastman site on Gray's Inn Road was originally the barracks of London and Westminster Light Horse Volunteers, a unit formed in response to the threat of French invasion in 1779. The barracks consisted of the quadrangle with a north and a south wing, and a stable block at the rear of the courtyard. The Volunteers were permanently disbanded in 1833.
On 31st August 1842 the Royal Free Hospital, then based in Hatton Garden, took a lease on the property and a public appeal was launched for funds. Their move was completed in 1844.
The Hospital at first used the barracks buildings (including stables) but gradually replaced them with purpose-built accommodation: The north (Sussex) wing was rebuilt in 1856, the south (Victoria) wing in 1876, and the west wing (the Alexandra Building) fronting on to Gray’s Inn Road in 1893.
After the Royal Free Hospital moved to Hampstead in 1974, the Eastman Dental Hospital and the Institute expanded to occupy all the vacant buildings on the 256 Gray’s Inn Road site.