James E. Bowman, the first African-American faculty member in the biological sciences division at the University of Chicago to gain tenure, has died from renal cancer at the University of Chicago Medical Center. He was 88 years old. Dr. Bowman was the father of senior presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett.
A native of Washington, D.C., Bowman earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1943 at Howard University. He was drafted into the Army and trained in medicine at Howard. He moved to Chicago to complete his residency and became chair of the pathology department at Provident Hospital.
Bowman and his family spent six years in Iran where he conducted research on genetic blood disorders, research that he would continue for the remainder of his career. In 1962 he joined the faculty at the University of Chicago and was promoted and received tenure in 1967. From 1973 to 1984, he directed the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at the University of Chicago.