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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Dr. Robert E. Stowell (1914 - 2011)

Dr. Robert E. StowellDr. Robert E. Stowell, the founding chair of the Department of Pathology at the UC Davis School of Medicine and an internationally renowned pathologist and educator, died on Nov. 20 of a cerebral vascular accident at his home in El Macero, Calif. He was 96.

During his nearly 60-year career, Dr. Stowell was widely influential as a prominent leader of national and international pathology organizations. In 1955, he was a founding member of the International Academy of Pathology (IAP), the organization that grew from the International Association of Medical Museums (IAMM). The IAMM represented the practice of pathology for the first 50 years of the 20th Century, while the IAP fulfilled this role in the second 50 years.

From 1959-1967, Dr. Stowell served as scientific director at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, a federal institution focused on diagnostic consultation, education and research in pathology. The facility held 95 million tissue samples and had served as a global resource for disease diagnosis and analysis for nearly 150 years before closing on Sept. 15, 2011, due to government cost-cutting initiatives.

He served as chair of the president of the American Association of Pathologists and Bacteriologists in 1971. In 1990, the American Society for Investigative Pathology bestowed upon Dr. Stowell its Gold-Headed Cane Award, the nation's highest award in pathology.

Dr. Stowell was born on Dec. 25, 1914, in Cashmere, Wash. He received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University in 1936, his M.D. from Stanford Medical School in 1941, and his Ph.D. in pathology from Washington University in 1944. After medical school, Dr. Stowell worked as a research assistant at the Barnard Free Skin and Cancer Hospital in St. Louis, and then as an assistant professor of pathology at Washington University.

From 1946-1947, Dr. Stowell was an advanced medical fellow of the Commonwealth Fund at the Institute for Cell Research in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1948, Dr. Stowell was appointed as chair of the Department of Oncology at the University of Kansas, and in 1951, he became chair of the university's Department of Pathology and Oncology.

In 1967, Dr. Stowell came to the UC Davis School of Medicine as the founding chair of its Department of Pathology. He served as chair until June 1969, when he was appointed director of the UC Davis Primate Center. He returned to the pathology department in 1971 and retired in 1982, although he continued to teach medical students as a volunteer until 2001.

At UC Davis, Dr. Stowell served as vice chair of the School of Medicine's first admissions committee. He helped create the school's first curricula and courses, built new programs and recruited new faculty.

In 1991, Dr. Stowell and his wife, the late Eva Mae Stowell, endowed the Robert E. Stowell Lectureship, which supports the annual appointment of a distinguished scientist as a visiting lecturer at the School of Medicine.