Remembering Benjamin A. Jackson

By Claude McGowan posted 03-04-2021 16:34


This in memoriam was authored by Dr. Claude McGowan, with input and guidance from Drs. Benita Jackson-Smoot, Stuart Graham, and Sid Green.

On January 4, 2021, Dr. Benjamin A. Jackson of Silver Spring, Maryland, passed away at the age of 91 after a brief illness. Born in Hillburn, New York, on July 8, 1929, to the late Benjamin Jackson and Susie Hatter Jackson, he is survived by Gloria, his wife of 65 years; his brother Travis Jackson; his daughters, Dr. Benita Jackson-Smoot (Lewis) and Pamela Kanaris (Sotirios); and his son, Benjamin Jr.

Dr. Jackson received an AB in mathematics and science from New York State College for Teachers at Albany (now SUNY-Albany) in 1950, a master of science in biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1951, a PhD in biology from New York University in 1957, and an MBA in management from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1978.

From a historic perspective, Dr. Jackson was the first African American to join SOT as one of its 183 Charter members, and he maintained his Emeritus Charter membership while remaining connected with SOT throughout the years.

He began his career as a Research Scientist (1951–1967) in the Department of Experimental Pathology at Lederle Laboratories (American Cyanamid Company) in Pearl River, New York. During 1964 and 1965, he received training as a Research Associate in the Department of Pathology at Cornell University Medical College during the tenure of a Cyanamid Award for Advanced Education. From 1967 to 1969, Dr. Jackson worked as an electron microscopist at the Sterling Winthrop Research Institute in Rensselaer, New York. From 1969 to 1976, he held the position of Group Leader, Reproductive Safety and Teratology, in the Toxicology Section at Lederle, which was followed in 1976–1978 by a promotion to Section Manager, Reproductive Safety & Experimental Mutagenesis, in the Toxicology Section.

In 1978, Dr. Jackson left Lederle Laboratories to begin a career in government at the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) in Washington, DC. His first appointment was as Team Leader, Antiparasitics (1978–1980) in the Food Animal Additives Evaluation Branch, Bureau of Foods. He was responsible for supervising reviews of human safety evaluations and establishing tolerance levels for animal drugs and their metabolites in edible tissues of farm animals. This was followed by promotion to Chief, Color and Cosmetic Evaluation Branch, in the Bureau of Foods (1980–1985), where he supervised and managed interdisciplinary reviews of data on color additives and cosmetic ingredients.

In 1985, he became Director, Division of Pathology (1985–1990), where he provided administrative direction and scientific leadership for pathology support of in-house laboratory investigations for the US FDA Nutrition, Toxicology, and Microbiology Divisions. He served on the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) Cancer Assessment and Quantitative Risk Assessment Committees, was Director of the Risk Assessment Program, was a member of the Center’s Operations Committee for Beltsville Mod I. Facility, and contributed to portions of the revised Redbook (Redbook II, “Toxicological Principles for the Safety Assessment of Direct Food Additives and Color Additives Used in Food”). Dr. Jackson retired from government service in 1990.

He authored many original research papers, reviews, and book chapters and was an invited participant in numerous meetings, presentations, and seminars. After retirement from the US FDA, Dr. Jackson worked as a Private Consultant in Regulatory Toxicology, providing expertise to clients needing assistance with developing study protocols and final reports, performing pre-submission reviews, developing position papers based on weight of evidence, offering preclinical advice, and supporting government agency programs by performing external peer reviews of human risk assessments (US EPA) and providing consultative advice on safety factors for reproductive effects (US FDA/CFSAN).

He served as Senior Science Advisor, Health Sciences, for Environ Corporation of Arlington, Virginia (1990–1992), providing project management and toxicology expertise for Toxicology and Pathology projects as well as litigation support. Beginning in 1992, he was Project Manager for the Priority-Based Food Additive (PAFA) Project. He worked as a Consultant (MeSH Indexer) for Information Ventures (1995–2014), to index biomedical publications for the National Library of Medicine Subject Headings (MeSH) Indexing Contract, where he provided search terms for thousands of papers in the toxicology literature.

In addition to his SOT membership, Dr. Jackson was a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences (ATS), as well as a member of the Society of Toxicologic Pathology and the International Society of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. Over the years, he lent his expertise in service to the discipline of toxicology as a Councilor (1982, 1988) for the American College of Toxicology, as Vice President of the Association of Government Toxicologists (1986), and as Secretary-Treasurer of ATS (1987–1990).

SOT mourns the loss of one of its Charter members, knowing that the Society and Dr. Jackson’s colleagues will miss his presence. However, we will all continue to celebrate his historic role through the Society’s long-standing goal of embracing diversity and optimizing inclusion. We are indebted to him for his career’s contributions to the field of toxicology and the relevance of those contributions to the Society’s mission to create a safer and healthier world by advancing the science and increasing the impact of toxicology.