Photo of Lucy Shapiro

Lucy Shapiro

  • National Medal of Science
  • Biological Sciences

For the pioneering discovery that the bacterial cell is controlled by an integrated genetic circuit functioning in time and space that serves as a systems engineering paradigm underlying cell differentiation and ultimately the generation of diversity in all organisms.

Lucy Shapiro on teaching

Developmental biologist Lucy Shapiro’s pioneering work has opened new windows into the mechanics of bacterial cells. Shapiro’s research showed that bacterial cells work on a three-dimensional grid and followed their movements during cell division.

Her work shed new light on biological diversity and helped found the field of developmental biology.

Shapiro also has tracked infectious diseases with an interest in developing drugs to not only attack the bacteria but the mechanisms bacteria use to develop a resistance to those drugs.

“It’s a time of just incredible revolutions in our understanding of how the living world works,’’ she told The Stanford Daily in 2013.

Born in New York, Shapiro earned a doctorate in molecular biology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1966. After teaching stints at Albert Einstein and Columbia University, she joined Stanford University in 1988. She is also director of the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine.

She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. With colleagues Harley McAdams and Stephen Benkovic she co-founded Anacor Pharmaceuticals in 2002.

By Robert Warren