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Fels Longitudinal Study Leader, Researcher dies at 95

Alex F. Roche, M.D., Ph.D., professor emeritus, Population and Public Health, and professor emeritus, Pediatrics, died on May 21, in Yellow Springs, Ohio, at the age of 95.

Roche was known for his work with The Fels Longitudinal Study, which was founded in Yellow Springs in 1929 as part of the Fels Research Institute. The Fels Longitudinal Study was originally designed to study child growth and development. Physical growth, maturation and the psychological development of children were early key research areas of interest in the Fels Longitudinal Study.

Later, the Fels Longitudinal Study focused on physical growth, skeletal maturation, body composition, risk factors for cardiovascular disease and obesity, skeletal and dental biology, longitudinal biostatistical analyses and aging. In 1977, the Fels Research Institute and the Fels Longitudinal Study became part of the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, residing first in the Department of Pediatrics and later within the Department of Community Health (now the Department of Population & Public Health Sciences) in its Lifespan Health Research Center. The Fels Longitudinal Study was the longest operational longitudinal study of its kind in the world.

Roche, who was born in Australia, joined the staff of The Fels Research Institute in 1968. He served as the senior scientist and head of The Fels Longitudinal Study. Under his leadership, an emphasis on the development of methods was introduced, including a new method for determining the maturing of the skeleton. The scope of the longitudinal study was expanded to include the composition of the body and risk factors for chronic diseases. The institute’s research efforts were recognized worldwide. Roche received awards and honors from several research organizations. He organized and chaired several international and national research conferences.

When The Fels Research Institute became part of Wright State University, Roche joined the faculty of the medical school as professor of pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology. He also became professor of community health. He served as university professor from 1990 to 1995. During his career, he published 62 scientific books and monographs, 400 papers, and 394 abstracts, posters and book reviews. He gave numerous lectures at scientific meetings. He was honored by the Human Biology Association with the Franz Boas Distinguished Achievement Award in 2004.

He is survived by his children, Peter Roche (Ginni), Stephen Roche, and Margaret Adams (Charles); two grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren in addition to cousins in Tennessee and other relatives in Australia.

A memorial service for Roche will be held on Saturday, June 3, at 1 p.m. at St. Paul Catholic Church (308 Phillips St.) in Yellow Springs.

Reach the obituary in The Yellow Springs News

Last edited on 06/02/2017.