University of Pittsburgh

The Dickson Prize in Medicine

Joseph Z. and Agnes Fischer Dickson

A practicing physician and surgeon in Pittsburgh for more than 61 years, Joseph Zimmerman Dickson (1868-1954) was an individual of keen intellect who, early in his career, was known to make house calls on horseback and accept payment in bartered goods.

His will and that of his wife, Agnes Fischer Dickson (who died in 1966), stipulated that their estates endow a trust to fund the Dickson Prize in Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and the Dickson Prize in Science at Carnegie Mellon University to recognize outstanding research contributions.

Joseph Dickson was born in what is now Carnegie, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania; Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio; and the Western Pennsylvania Medical College (now the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine). He also trained in surgery at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London and St. Louis Hospital in Paris before starting a practice in downtown Pittsburgh. His son and only heir, James, died of Hodgkin’s disease in 1923 at age 16.

In 1948, Dickson retired from his practice but continued to work out of his Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, home. Also in 1948, having been widowed, he married Agnes Fischer, his nurse for 40 years, who also was born in the Pittsburgh area.