Harvey J.Howard (1880-1956) was the first chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at Washington University School of Medicine. He graduated with his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1908 and in 1910, Howard headed to China to serve a five year term as head of the Ophthalmology Department in the University Medical School at Canton Christian College. Upon his return to the U.S., Howard studied ophthalmologic pathology, specializing in congenital abnormalities of the eye, at Harvard University on a Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship, and was elected to the American Ophthalmological Society in 1917 for his work.
During WWI, Howard briefly served as a captain in the U.S. Army, where he developed the Howard-Dolman depth perception test for aviators. After his military service, he returned to China in 1917 as the head of the Department of Ophthalmology at Union Medical College in Beijing, an appointment that lasted until 1927. During his decade in Beijing, Howard conducted research on epithelial cells and organized a teaching program in which he arranged for many prominent ophthalmologists to guest teach. He also served as the ophthalmologist to Pu Yi, the boy emperor in the Forbidden City, from 1921 to 1925. In 1926, he and his son, Jim, were kidnapped by Manchurian bandits and held for $100,000 ransom. They were held for ten weeks and despite the gang's threats, Howard and his son escaped largely due to his fluent Chinese and by treating the kidnappers" medical ailments. Upon his release, Howard wrote Ten Weeks with Chinese Bandits, an accounting of his adventures during his captivity. The publication was translated into seven languages and went through eight printings.
In 1927, he was contacted by Washington University School of Medicine asking him to serve as the first Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology. He accepted the position and was instrumental in the construction of a new building devoted to ophthalmology. At the medical school, Howard was responsible for the development of a resident training program in ophthalmology and conducted research on trachoma among the Indians and aviation medicine. In addition to his teaching duties, Howard served as the medical director for the Missouri Commission for the Blind from 1931 to 1948 and entered private practice in 1934.