John Lawton Shapiro

(1915-1983)

John Lawton Shapiro

John L. Shapiro (1915-1983) was a pathologist and professor. He was a successor to Dr. Ernest W. Goodpasture as chairman of the Department of Pathology at Vanderbilt, and he helped establish one of the first diagnostic cytopathology laboratories in the South.

John Lawton Shapiro

Professor John L. Shapiro was considered to be a living legend at Vanderbilt Medical School. He was a teacher students liked to tell stories about for years to come. Clifton R. Meador, M55, said of Shapiro, "It was awesome, he taught by complete fear. It was the most effective use of the technique I have ever seen. He genuinely wanted you to learn the material and if you didn't, he would tell you about it."

Shapiro was born in Maury County, TN and received his B.A. and M.D. from Vanderbilt. He served an internship in surgery at Case Western Reserve University and then entered the U.S. Army during World War II. He was seriously wounded in the Italian campaign. This injury convinced him to pursue teaching rather than a traditional, patient-oriented medical career. He returned to Vanderbilt as a resident in pathology, rising through the academic ranks to become Professor of Pathology and, subsequently, chair of the department.

After his retirement in 1970, Dr. Shapiro established a medical clinic at the Nashville Union Rescue Mission. He ran the clinic three days per week, providing primary care for some forty patients per day. After his death in 1983, Dr. Shapiro's friends and students established a Chair in Pathology in his honor.

The Eskind Library also has a collection of Dr. Shapiro's personal papers. For more information, please consult the Inventory of the John L. Shapiro Papers.