America's Leading Microbiologist And Harvard's First Department Chair

America's Leading Microbiologist And Harvard's First Department Chair

Written on 09/29/2022

Harold Amos a native of Pennsauken, N.J., who graduated from Springfield College in Springfield, Mass with a baccalaureate in 1941. He had gone there on an academic scholarship, something few African Americans received at that time. He also served in the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps in Europe during World War II. Following this service, he earned an MA from Harvard University and then received his Ph.D. from the HMS Division of Medical Sciences in 1952. From 1951 to 1952, he was a Fulbright scholar at the Pasteur Institute in Paris and, in 1954; he joined the Medical School faculty as an instructor in the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology. From 1968 until 1971, and again from 1975 until 1978, he served as chair of the department (now the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics).

Dr. Amos was one of the first two recipients of the Dr. Charles R. Drew World Medical Prize, awarded by Howard University to distinguished minority biomedical scientists. He was also awarded the Public Welfare Medal of the National Academy of Sciences in 1995, a doctor of science honorary degree from Harvard University in 1996, and a Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal in 2000. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and, in 1991, was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the Institute of Medicine. He also served on the President's Cancer Panel and the National Cancer Advisory Board, and for more than 30 years, served in various leadership positions with the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Amos was a Harvard faculty member for nearly 50 years, made research contributions to the fields of animal cell culture, bacterial metabolism, and animal and bacterial virology. He taught at Harvard Medical School for nearly fifty years and was the first African American department chair of the school. He also inspired hundreds of African American children to become medical doctors.


"Dr. Amos has been an inspiration, mentor, and career counselor for young scientists and physicians-in-training for decades,"

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