In Remembrance of Dr. Harold Amos
At the October, 2003 meeting of the Advisory Committee of the Albert J. Ryan Foundation, it was enthusiastically and unanimously voted to henceforth name the Squam Lake symposia The Harold Amos Symposium of the Albert J. Ryan Foundation."
From its inception, Dr. Amos played a uniquely important and sustained role in the Ryan Foundation. After he was appointed by Dean Robert Ebert of Harvard Medical School to be the Harvard representative to the Ryan Foundation, he met for the first time in the late 1960s with Co- Trustee Robert Manley, while Alice Ryan was still alive, to discuss ways to implement her desire to fund graduate education. He was involved in the decision that Ryan Fellows should meet regularly together. After the Dartmouth and Harvard Ryan Fellows had, met twice at the Minary Center, Dr. Amos advocated for financial support that would permit inclusion of the Cincinnati Fellows as well What have become the Ryan Foundation's "Squam Lake Symposie may well be a unique aspect of a fellowship of this kind. The idea of regularly publishing and circulating a Ryan Fellows Directory also came from Dr. Amos. Long after he gained emeritus status, Dr. Amos enjoyed regularly participating in the Squam Lake Symposia, as one of his great pleasures was to see and encourage the scientific progress of young investigators. He had a remarkable way of asking questions during the scientific sessions that brought out the best in the speakers and demonstrated his genuine interest in their work. In addition to the scientific sessions of the Symposia, Dr. Amos relished the camaraderie of the informal mealtime and evening conversations with students. He also demonstrated his devotion to the Ryan Foundation by attending almost all of its annual advisory committee meetings in Cincinnati — a not inconsiderable undertaking, especially in his older years, since he did not travel by plane.
Dr. Amos was a graduate student and then, for close to 50 years, a faculty member, in the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology (now Microbiology and Molecular Genetics) at Harvard Medical School, where he was named Maude and Lillian Presley Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in 1975 and became emeritus in 1988. He was known for his work on bacterial metabolism, virology, and animal cell culture. After his official retirement from administrative positions, he continued to derive much satisfaction from doing experiments in the laboratory and thinking about scientific questions. He was preparing several research manuscripts at the time of his death.
As chair of his department from 1968-1971, and again from 1975-1978, Dr. Amos was known particularly for his interest in and encouragement of students and young faculty. In: his role as Chairman of the Division of Medical Sciences (the PhD programs) at Harvard Medical School from 1971-1975 and from 1978-1988, Dr. Amos provided creative, forward-looking leadership with fairness and diplomacy. The door to his office was almost always open, and he welcomed drop-in visitors. He was an effective and tireless supporter of all students, especially minorities, in science and medicine, and served on numerous boards and advisory committees dedicated to these efforts. From 1989-1994 Dr. Amos was program director of the Robert Wood Johnson Minority Medical Faculty Development Program. In tribute to his many contributions, this program has been renamed the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program, and its awardees will be know as-Amos Scholars. Beginning in 1974 until his death, he was an active member of the board of directors of the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation.
Dr. Amos received many important awards that recognized both his scientific accomplishments and his devotion to educational initiatives and the welfare of students. These include honorary doctoral degrees from Harvard University and from his alma mater Springfield College, the Centennial Medal of the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the first Dr. Charles Drew World Medical Prize from Howard University, and the Public Welfare Medal of the National Academy of Sciences. A modest man, few of his colleagues knew the full range of honors he had received.
Above all, Dr. Amos is remembered for caring deeply about people, and was friend, teacher, advisor, mentor, colleague, role model, inspiration, and confidante to hundreds if not thousands of people of all ages, and from all backgrounds and stations in life. He had wide-ranging interests, a prodigious memory for the interests and concerns of others, the desire to share his accumulated wisdom, and the willingness to help resolve difficult situations.
He grew up in Pennsauken, New Jersey, the second of nine children. After graduating first in his class from Camden High School, he attended Springfield College in Massachusetts on an academic scholarship at a time when few were awarded to African Americans. He graduated in 1941 with a degree in biochemistry, and was an ardent, lifelong supporter of his alma mater. He was known as a competent tennis player and pianist. Time in France in the army during World War II, and as a Fulbright Scholar at the Pasteur Institute in Paris in the early 1950s, turned Dr. Amos into a confirmed Francophile. A lover of literature and music, he was particularly fond of French composers and poets, spoke fluent French, and relished French food and wine, especially in the company of his many friends. He died on February 26, 2003, several days after suffering a stroke.
Dr. Amos's significant contributions and deep devotion to the Ryan Foundation are celebrated and remembered by naming this symposium the Harold Amos Symposium of the Albert J. Ryan Foundation.