March 27, 2024

Panel honoring Jean Cowsert, M.D., hosted March 19; new scholarship announced

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Hosted by the Heersink School of Medicine Office for Diversity and Inclusion in collaboration with the School of Health Professions, a panel discussion was held on March 19 to honor Jean Cowsert, M.D.
The event served as a testament to Cowsert's pioneering spirit and enduring contributions to the medical field.pannel

Held in Wallace Tumor Institute’s lobby, Anupam Agarwal, M.D., dean of the Heersink School of Medicine, set the tone by emphasizing the significance of recognizing trailblazers like Cowsert.

He announced the creation of the Jean Cowsert, M.D., Medical Scholarship, with the goal to formally endow once the minimum is reached. Gifts to the scholarship can be made online at

The Cowsert Scholarship will help to lessen the financial burden for deserving UAB Heersink School of Medicine Students and help to preserve Dr. Cowsert’s enduring legacy.

A panel discussion featuring David Burton Smith, Ph.D., acclaimed author of "Malicious Intent: Murder and the Perpetuation of Jim Crow Health Care" discussed his newly released book. Alongside Raegan Durant, M.D., MPH, and Christy Harris Lemak, Ph.D., FACHE, the panel delved into the challenges faced by Cowsert amidst the era of Jim Crow segregation. This insightful dialogue commemorated her memory and discussed her story.agarwal

Concluding remarks from School of Health Professions leadership reaffirmed UAB's unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion across academic and healthcare domains.

Distinguished professor emeritus in the School of Health Professions, Howard Houser, Ph.D., offered reflections on his own experiences navigating the segregated hospital waiting rooms of the past. His presence served as a reminder of the strides made since then.

As the event ended, attendees departed with a renewed appreciation for Cowsert's enduring legacy and a resolute pledge to advance her work in fostering equality within the realm of healthcare.

The event garnered a substantial turnout, with around 100 attendees. Notable guests included Sister Mary John Code, a closegroup friend and colleague of Cowsert, as well as her nephew, Dr. William "Bill" Lee, with his daughter, Barbara Jones. Their presence highlighted the profound impact of Cowsert's work on both a personal and professional level. Also in attendance were an investigator and federal agent from the Justice Department who have reopened the case looking into Cowsert's death. Though they couldn’t give details about the investigation, they wanted attendees to know that the work continues.

The UAB Bookstore facilitated further engagement by providing copies of Smith's book, enabling attendees to delve deeper into the historical backdrop surrounding Cowsert's legacy.

Watch a replay of the event here.