Robert Stewart Jason
Physician and Pathologist
Robert Stewart Jason, born in 1901 in Puerto Rico, was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in pathology. Jason had a medical degree as well and served as head of the department of pathology at Howard University and later as dean of its College of Medicine.
Dr. Jason was the son of Presbyterian missionary who was originally from Maryland, and his missionary wife. After graduating from the Polytechnic Institute of San German, Puerto Rico, Jason entered Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and received his B.A. degree in 1924. He then attended Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and was awarded his M.D. degree in 1928.
In 1929 he completed his internship at Freedman's Hospital in Washington, D.C., and was awarded a Ph.D. in pathology from the University of Chicago in 1932.
As a pathologist, he was concerned with the structural and functional changes in cells, tissues, and organs caused by disease, and he focused specifically during his research career on the pathology of syphilis and tuberculosis.
Dr. Jason played in integral role in the growth and development of Howard's College of Medicine, rising from assistant professor to dean in his more than 35 years at the university. During his last years at Howard, he was coordinator for design and planning of its new University Hospital. In recognition of his many contributions to the university, the Department of Pathology at Howard's College of Medicine established in 1967 the Robert S. Jason Award in Pathology.
Dr. Jason died of Alzheimer's disease at his home in New York City on April 6, 1984. By the time of his death, Dr. Jason held many professional appointments with the National Institutes of Health, the Veterans Administration and other large institutions. He also received several honors and awards during his long career including two honorary doctorates from Howard University, the Professional Achievement Award from the University of Chicago Alumni Association and the Distinguished Service Award of the National Medical Association.