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No. 34 – Julian H. Lewis, Ph.D./M.D., also known as the “Father of Anthropathology (the study of racial differences in the expression of disease),” was born in 1891 in what is now Old Shawneetown in southern Illinois, near the Kentucky border. The Ohio River flooded in 1937 and the town was moved. His parents had been born into slavery, but they became educators.

Lewis traveled from Shawneetown to Champaign and, at the age of 16, enrolled at the University of Illinois. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1911 and a master’s degree a year later. He then entered the University of Chicago where he earned a Ph.D. in physiology and pathology from the University of Chicago in a year and a half. He graduated magna cum laude and his dissertation on the role of lipids in immunity was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. It also won the prestigious Ricketts Prize.

He then entered Rush Medical College and earned his M.D. in 1917. He also won the Benjamin Rush Medal. That year he joined the University of Chicago faculty as an instructor in pathology. He became an assistant professor in 1923. He was the first African American faculty member to be hired by the University.

Lewis was one of the first African Americans to earn both a medical degree and a doctorate. In 1913, he was the first African American inducted into Sigma Xi, the scientific honorary. He was also the first African American to be a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, a medical fraternity.