Larry J. Shapiro
Larry J. Shapiro, MD, dean emeritus of Washington University School of Medicine, has deep, personal ties to the university. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Washington University and completed his residency at St. Louis Children’s Hospital before embarking on a stellar medical career that ultimately brought him back to the Medical Campus.
A beloved administrator, pediatrician, genetics researcher and mentor, Dr. Shapiro served as executive vice chancellor and dean of the School of Medicine from 2003 to 2015.
Under his leadership, the medical school greatly expanded its clinical programs, recruited outstanding faculty and students, and strengthened the research enterprise.
With Dr. Shapiro at the helm, the School of Medicine also consistently remained a top 10 medical school, according to annual rankings by U.S. News & World Report — though he was always quick to credit that standing to the school’s dedicated faculty and to the quality and drive of the students.
He knows that drive well.
Dr. Shapiro first arrived in St. Louis some 50 years ago as an undergraduate student in Arts & Sciences. A course in developmental biology taught by eventual Nobel Laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini and famed embryologist Viktor Hamburger sparked the future physician-researcher’s interest in biomedical science.
He pursued his medical degree at Washington University, where a class in medical genetics decided his career path. Dr. Shapiro chose pediatrics not only because he enjoyed caring for children, but also because the field offered a pathway into medical genetics. Most genetic diseases studied at the time were pediatric in nature.
After completing his residency, he left St. Louis for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland. From there, he went to the University of California, Los Angeles, where he was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and then the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). There, Dr. Shapiro was a professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics and chief of pediatrics at the UCSF Children’s Hospital.
After three decades away, he returned to the Gateway City in 2003 to become the School of Medicine’s executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean.
“When I had the opportunity to come back, I knew it was what I should do,” he recalled for a story in 2015 about his tenure at the university. “Filling these roles has been the greatest privilege of my career.”
Dr. Shapiro was very proud of the school’s role in the first sequencing of a cancer genome in a human, as well as the institution’s leadership in imaging science, fundamental immunology, translational science and in understanding the root causes of Alzheimer’s disease.
He has been lauded for his leadership in research and medical education, as well as for his efforts to build bridges between the Medical and Danforth campuses, particularly with the establishment of the Institute for Public Health; for enhancing the school’s relationship with BJC HealthCare; and for advocating for diversity and gender equality at the medical school.
Dr. Shapiro is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was vice chair of the Council of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He also served as president of the American Society of Human Genetics and the American Pediatric Society, and is past chairman of the Association of American Medical Colleges Advisory Panel for Research and past chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Academic Health Centers.
In 2017, Dr. Shapiro found he couldn’t stay away from the world of academic medicine. He was named CEO of University Health Partners of Hawaii, the faculty practice at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine.
Dr. Shapiro now lives in Kailua, Hawaii, with his wife, Carol Uetake-Shapiro, a longtime active member of the Washington University community and ambassador for the School of Medicine. The Shapiros have three children and seven grandchildren. Daughters Jennifer and Jessica live in Nashville and son Brian lives in Los Angeles. Jennifer, AB ’94, and Brian, AB ’02, graduated from Washington University.