The collection includes more than ten linear feet of research notebooks, correspondence, diaries, photographic materials, and publications, with materials dating from 1938 (the year before Mason received his Ph.D. from MIT) to the late 1990s. Mason died almost exactly five years ago, in 2003.
At the time of his death, the obituary in the Oregonian (Apr. 22, 2003) noted that Mason, internationally known for his work on oxygen metabolism,
was at the forefront of work to understand aging, and his collaborations with other OHSU researchers led to new knowledge about the cause of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer...The collection includes information on his melanin research, as well as information on P450, metalloproteins, and microwave radiation. An avid gardener, Mason was a founding member of the Berry Botanic Garden Board. The collection also includes a notebook containing many photographs of Mason's prized gentian plants.
Dr. Mason's work upset a previously held theory of oxygen converting to water in the body. He found that oxygen affects body cells in many different forms. In the 1960s, Dr. Mason's study involved free radicals -- an oxidizing chemical type whose imbalance in the body is thought to cause tissue damage. His work furthered an understanding of chemical causes of some diseases, including cancer and heart disease and conditions found in aging.
He also looked into how oxygen is used in pigment cells, hoping that his contribution could help end racism. He thought if people understood that we all share the same pigment-forming system, that this would make a difference. He came to understand that emotions and other issues beyond research were more daunting.