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BLKISH Forums African-American Inventors and Scientists First African American to chair a Department of the Harvard Medical School | Amos, Harold (Microbiologist)

  • First African American to chair a Department of the Harvard Medical School | Amos, Harold (Microbiologist)


    November 1, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Harold Amos (September 7, 1918[citation needed] – February 26, 2003[1]) was an American microbiologist and professor. He taught at Harvard Medical School for nearly fifty years and was the first African-American department chair of the school.

    In the fall of 1946 Amos enrolled in the biological sciences graduate program at Harvard Medical School, earning his master’s degree in 1947. In 1952 he was awarded a PhD from Harvard Medical School.[3] Amos joined the Harvard Medical School faculty in 1954, working as a teacher. He was the chairman of the bacteriology department from 1968 to 1971 and again from 1975 to 1978. In 1975, he was named the Maude and Lillian Presley professor of microbiology and molecular genetics.[5] He was a presidential advisor to Richard Nixon,[4] a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1974),[6] the Institute of Medicine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1988 Amos received professor emeritus status. Amos was awarded the National Academy of Sciences’ Public Welfare Medal in 1995[7] and the Harvard Centennial Medal in 2000. He directed the Minority Medical Faculty Development Program (MMFDP) of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation after his retirement from Harvard.[8] A diversity award at Harvard Medical School is named after Amos.[9] He inspired hundreds of minorities to become medical doctors.[4] Amos’s research focused on using cells in culture to understand how molecules get into cells and how entry is regulated during cell starvation or in plentiful conditions. Amos published over seventy scientific papers.[3] He was well known as an inviting and welcoming mentor to both students and junior faculty members. He spoke fluent French and was a devoted Francophile.[3]

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