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Dr. James Bowman

Geneticist, medical professor and pathologist Dr. James Bowman was born on February 5, 1923 in Washington, D.C. to James E. Bowman, a dentist and Dorothy Bowman, a homemaker. Bowman graduated with honors from Dunbar High School in 1939 and went on to study biology at Howard University where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1943. By attending medical school as part of the U.S. Army Medical Corps at Howard University, Bowman was able to obtain his medical degree in 1946. His intention was to become an Army medical officer, but at the time, segregation prevented it, so Bowman continued his studies in pathology. After an internship at Freedmen's Hospital in Washington, D.C., Bowman did his residency in pathology at St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago from 1947 to 1952.

In 1955, Bowman accepted a position in Iran where he studied favism, a disease which relates to the deficiency of glucose-6-dehydrogenase. From 1961 to 1962, Bowman studied genetics at the Galton Laboratory at the University College London. After returning from London, University of Chicago professor Alf Alving invited Bowman to take a faculty position there in the malaria research unit. His research on enzyme deficiency at the University of Chicago sent him abroad to do population studies. Bowman traveled to Mexico, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Uganda among other places. From 1981 to 1982, Bowman studied under the Henry J. Kaiser Senior Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

An expert in the fields of pathology and genetics and professor emeritus in the departments of pathology and medicine at the University of Chicago, Bowman also served on the Committee on Genetics; the Committee on African and African American Studies; and as a senior scholar for the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. He also published more than ninety works in the fields of general human genetics; hematological population genetics; genetic variation among diverse peoples; and ethical, legal and public policy issues in human genetics. One of his most notable books entitled, "Genetic Variation Disorders in People of African Origin," was co-authored with Robert Murray. Bowman and his wife, Barbara, raised one daughter, Valerie Bowman Jarrett.

Bowman passed away on September 28, 2011 at age 88.

Accession Number

A2002.192

Sex

Male

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

9/27/2002

Last Name

Bowman

Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Paul Laurence Dunbar High School

Howard University

Archival Photo 2
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

BOW03

Favorite Season

None

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Outside of the U.S.

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

2/5/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Potato Salad, Rice, Ham

Death Date

9/28/2011

Short Description

Medical professor, pathologist, and geneticist Dr. James Bowman (1923 - 2011 ) was an expert in genetic pathology and a world traveler. Bowman was professor emeritus in the departments of pathology and medicine at the University of Chicago.

Employment

University of Chicago

St. Luke's Hospital

University College London

Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences

Namazi Hospital

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:3554,30:31530,402:74161,971:100348,1363:188430,2440$0,0:65271,1042:172740,2497
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Dr. James Bowman's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Dr. James Bowman lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Dr. James Bowman describes his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Dr. James Bowman describes his father and mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Dr. James Bowman describes his childhood in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Dr. James Bowman talks about his favorite teachers at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Dr. James Bowman describes his experiences attending Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Dr. James Bowman talks about winning the District of Columbia singles tennis championship

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Dr. James Bowman describes segregation in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Dr. James Bowman talks about attending Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Dr. James Bowman talks about his professors at Howard University

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Dr. James Bowman describes his extracurricular involvement at Howard University

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Dr. James Bowman describes his experiences attending Howard University College of Medicine

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Dr. James Bowman compares the standards of Howard University College of Medicine to other medical schools in the 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Dr. James Bowman talks about serving in the U.S. Army at the Medical Attrition Laboratory in Chicago, Illinois and Denver, Colorado

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Dr. James Bowman talks about meeting and marrying his wife, HistoryMaker Barbara Bowman

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Dr. James Bowman describes why he moved to Iran in 1955

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Dr. James Bowman talks about studying favism in Iran, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Dr. James Bowman talks about studying favism in Iran, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Dr. James Bowman describes favism

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Dr. James Bowman talks about raising his daughter, HistoryMaker Valerie Bowman Jarrett, in Iran

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Dr. James Bowman describes the cultural experience of living in Iran

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Dr. James Bowman talks about living and working in England

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Dr. James Bowman describes being hired at the University of Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Dr. James Bowman talks about Dr. Alf Alving

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Dr. James Bowman talks about being invited back to Iran to lecture

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Dr. James Bowman describes how the American Central Intelligence Agency's secrets were common knowledge amongst people living in Iran

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Dr. James Bowman describes how a British intelligence secret was shared with him

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Dr. James Bowman talks about the National Security Agency

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Dr. James Bowman describes his research at the University of Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Dr. James Bowman describes his first research trip to Lagos, Nigeria

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Dr. James Bowman shares an anecdote of the treatment of guests in accordance with Nigerian and Middle Eastern traditions

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Dr. James Bowman describes the tensions of traveling to Uganda

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Dr. James Bowman talks about Dr. John M. Branion Jr.

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Dr. James Bowman talks about the various African countries he visited

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Dr. James Bowman describes how he learned of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement while living in Iran

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Dr. James Bowman describes his reaction to foreigners' perceptions of the United States

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Dr. James Bowman talks about the importance of understanding different cultures

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Dr. James Bowman comments on diversity from a genetics standpoint

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Dr. James Bowman talks about "nature vs. nurture" and power, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Dr. James Bowman talks about "nature vs. nurture" and power, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Dr. James Bowman talks about the Model Sterilization Law and Buck v. Bell

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Dr. James Bowman talks about eugenics around the world

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Dr. James Bowman talks about eugenicist and physicist William Shockley

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Dr. James Bowman talks about Dr. Frances C. Welsing and inherited disorders

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Dr. James Bowman comments on the ideal of an utopian society

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Dr. James Bowman shares his thoughts on religion

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Dr. James Bowman notes how religion and politics can potentially stunt scientific progress

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Dr. James Bowman shares a story about Dr. Joycelyn Elders

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Dr. James Bowman talks about the politics surrounding stem cell research

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Dr. James Bowman shares his thoughts about the future of genetic research, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Dr. James Bowman shares his thoughts about the future of genetic research, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Dr. James Bowman shares his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Dr. James Bowman reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Dr. James Bowman describes the deaths of each of his parents

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Dr. James Bowman talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Dr. James Bowman reflects upon his contributions to research and teaching in Iran

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Dr. James Bowman provides advice for young people and talks about his wife, HistoryMaker Barbara Bowman

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Dr. James Bowman narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Dr. James Bowman narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Dr. James Bowman describes why he moved to Iran in 1955
Dr. James Bowman describes being hired at the University of Chicago
Transcript
Okay, so how long were you in Denver [Colorado]?$$We were there for about a year and a half, and then my wife [Barbara Bowman, HM] and I thought there was a chance, you know, should I go back to Chicago [Illinois] to Provident Hospital. I was invited back, but I thought that I had had enough of that, and my wife and I thought that we're not very happy to living, even in that time, under segregated conditions. And my wife and I said, and I said, well, it'd be nice to travel and have somebody pay for it (laughter). And we decided to leave the United States. And then during that time, it was during the McCarthy Era too. It was not very pleasant. And so I happened to be at a meeting in Washington, D.C., the International Geographic Pathology, and I met a friend of mine, who had been at Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and was head of Geographic Pathology. And he said, what are you gonna do when you leave the Army? And I said, well, I was thinking of going somewhere, and I was thinking of going to Africa or to India or some place. And he said, what I heard about an excellent place in Iran. There's a new hospital that's being built, and they want Americans and Iranians to open the hospital. I said, now, that's a rare thing. He said, and they're looking for a chairman of the Department of Pathology. So he gave me the address, and I wrote, which was then the Iran Foundation, which was incorporated in New York. And the members of the board of the Iran Foundation were professors from all over the country, and A. O. Whipple and Eastman from Har--from Hopkins and what have you. So my wife and I were invited out for an interview in New York at a yearly meeting they have there. And there was a large banquet, and my wife and I were circulated by members of the board. And at the end of the dinner, they said, well, Dr. Bowman, we'd like to invite you and your wife to Iran. So we said, yes, because everybody said, ah, that's the craziest thing. You wouldn't do it and why would you go there? And where is Iran and what have you? And I said, (unclear) you know, opportunity. And the salary wasn't bad, and it was tax free, so we thought we could make it. So, we, in 1955, we arrived in Iran, and it's the best thing that ever happened because that is--my work in Iran and the research I did there was eventually, was the reason why I was invited to at--the University of Chicago [Chicago, Illinois].$Now, when you left England, where did you go?$$When I went to England, that is, I said, well, you know, we were looking for something else to do. And I remembered Dr. [Alf] Alving who was the, who initiated the studies on this enzyme deficiency that we were studying in Iran. And I remembered what he said. He said, now, Dr. Bowman, when you come to Chicago [Illinois], he said, I'd like for you to see me, talk to me, look me up. And so I called him up, and he said, Oh, oh, I remember. And he said, come over, I wanna see you. So we started chatting and chatting and chatting, and then the next day, he said, you know what? He said, he said, we'd like to invite you to be on the faculty at the University of Chicago [Chicago, Illinois]. It just came out of the blue. I didn't expect it at all or what have you. And so he said, but, he said, the chairman of the Department of Medicine--at that time, the blood bank was in the Department of Medicine. And since I was a pathologist, and I did all sorts of pathology, blood bank, he said, we need someone in the blood bank. They had the blood bank. And that was, oddly enough, was in the department of medicine, he said, but the chairman, the Department--of Medicine, Dr. Jacobson, is going to be at the International Congress of Hematology, and are you going? I said, yes, I'm going there too, in Mexico. He said, he'll, he'll see you there. And so I saw him at his hotel, and he said, go out, he said, let's go out tomorrow, out to the pyramids. And so he took me out to the pyramids, and so we talked and chatted all day. And after we came back, he said, well, you know, he said, I'd like for you to be on the faculty, just like that. I didn't have an interview or anything else. Of course, I said, well, I said something about an interview. And he said, well, you've been with me all day long (laughter). He said, that's your interview. So that's how I started on the faculty of the University of Chicago with a group that was called the University of Chicago Malaria Research Unit, and they were doing research. And that was a unit that actually worked on and developed on prophylaxis for malaria and for treatment of malaria, right through that unit. But these, this research was done at Statesville Prison, and they were doing other studies too. So that's how I started at the University of Chicago.$$That's a wonderful story. I mean very few people are just invited without having to apply (laughter).$$(Laughter).