Eliot Society members gather for annual gala

Retired medical school dean Larry Shapiro receives Search Award

two men shake hands
Larry J. Shapiro, MD (left), former dean of the School of Medicine, was honored with the Search Award at the 49th annual William Greenleaf Eliot Society dinner April 21. Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton gave remarks at the event. (Photo: Joe Angeles/Washington University)

Members of the William Greenleaf Eliot Society, Washington University in St. Louis’ group of alumni, friends, parents and colleagues who provide the largest source of unrestricted support to the institution, gathered at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel April 21 for the annual event recognizing members for their contributions to the university.

Eliot Society president Gil Bickel welcomed the group of 700 and introduced the keynote speaker, former first lady Laura Bush, who is a lifelong advocate for literacy and education.

Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton handled the honors for the other highlight of the evening: the presentation of the society’s Search Award to Larry J. Shapiro, MD, the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished University Professor, who, until 2015, served as executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.

The Search Award is presented annually to a member of the university community for outstanding contributions.

“I’m delighted to recognize Larry Shapiro with this year’s Search Award,” Wrighton said. “Under Larry’s visionary leadership, the School of Medicine experienced major growth in nearly all facets of its mission.”

Wrighton enumerated some of the significant advancements made under Shapiro’s direction: an increase in research and commensurate federal funding for pioneering biomedical initiatives; notable enhancements to many programs, especially in neuroscience and at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center; the addition of the BJC Institute of Health that will bolster a more collaborative and transdisciplinary environment; and the forging of a strong academic-industry partnership that is creating a flourishing environment for life sciences companies in St. Louis.

Furthermore, Shapiro’s vision for the future included the implementation of BioMed21, a plan to bring research advances in the laboratory more rapidly to a patient’s bedside.

man and woman shake hands
Former first lady Laura Bush, keynote speaker at the 49th annual Eliot Society dinner April 21, greets honoree Larry J. Shapiro. (Photo: Joe Angeles/Washington University)

Wrighton expressed gratitude to Eliot Society members “whose generosity directly supports the university’s mission to discover and disseminate knowledge, and to protect the freedom of inquiry through research, teaching and learning.”

The William Greenleaf Eliot Society was founded in 1959 to help support student assistance programs, sponsored scholarships, faculty development and recruitment, educational resources, and facility improvements. Today, it has more than 9,300 members throughout the United States and around the world.

About Larry Shapiro

Shapiro is highly distinguished for his research in human genetics, molecular biology and biochemistry. Professional recognition includes membership in the National Academy of Medicine, the National Research Council Governing Board, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; he also is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Throughout his career Shapiro has served his profession in many capacities, most notably for the National Institutes of Health Scientific Management Review Board, the American Board of Medical Genetics, the Society for Pediatric Research, and the Advisory Panel on Research for the Association of American Medical Colleges.

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