Development of Accurate Syphilis Test
William A. Hinton 1883-1959

The son of former slaves, William A. Hinton earned a bachelor's degree and a medical degree with honors from Harvard University in 1905. Harvard had offered this promising student a scholarship for Negro students, but Hinton refused and instead won two other scholarships in competition with the entire student body.

Hinton first worked for the Wasserman Laboratory, which was then a part of the Harvard Medical School and later a division of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. From 1921 to 1946 he taught bacteriology and immunology at Harvard. Hinton was the first African American to become a professor at Harvard Medical School and the first to publish a medical textbook, Syphilis and Its Treatment (1936). During the 1920s Hinton developed his world-renowned test for syphilis. In 1931 he improved the accuracy of the test, now called the Davies-Hinton Test, which was used during World War II.