Interview with Burton L. Shapiro

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Interview with Burton L. Shapiro

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University of Minnesota


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Burton Shapiro begins his interview with a survey of his education and choices to pursue dental specialization and genetics research. He discusses his position as a genetics researcher in the Dental School, his dental education at New York University (NYU), and his responsibilities as a professor at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Shapiro then provides a chronology and review of his research, including his work on Down syndrome, exfoliative cytology, programmed cell death, and cystic fibrosis. He discusses his sources of funding, including money that came directly from the Minnesota Legislature and money from the American Cancer Society. Dr. Shapiro then reflects on the Dental School and the University more broadly, including the following topics: the deanships of William Crawford and Erwin Schaffer, student activism in the Dental School, the work of Carl Witkop, changing configurations of the School, the increasing number of women in the School, the creation of the Division of Health Ecology, the relationships between University Hospitals and Clinics and the Dental School, water fluoridation in Minnesota, the move from Owre Hall to Moos Tower, his experiences with Lyle French and the State Legislature, his work on the Health Sciences Policy and Review Committee and other committee work, Richard Oliver's deanship, retrenchment, minority admissions, Richard Elzay's deanship, the threat of closure of the Dental School, Neal Vanselow as vice president of the AHC, William Brody as provost of the AHC, and Frank Cerra as vice president of the AHC.


Burton Shapiro was born in New York City on March 29, 1934 and grew up in Manhattan. He completed his undergraduate work at Tufts University and then attended New York University (NYU) Dental School from which he graduated in 1958. After completing two years of naval service in San Diego, California, Shapiro pursued a master's degree in oral pathology from the University of Minnesota, studying under Dr. Robert Gorlin. Shapiro then completed a Ph.D. in genetics in 1966. At the time, he was one of only two dentists in the world trained in genetics. He became an associate professor in the University's Dental School in 1966 and conducted research on a number of topics, including Down syndrome, exfoliative cytology, programmed cell death, and cystic fibrosis. Dr. Shapiro also served the University on several committees, including the Faculty Consultative Committee, and on the Faculty Senate. He retired in 2005.

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Klaffke, Lauren E.; Shaprio, Burton L.. (2012). Interview with Burton L. Shapiro. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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