Dr John Shepherd (1919 - 2011):
John Shepherd was an outstanding cardiologist, one of 15 practising physicians in his family across several generations, who spent much of his career in the United States, where he helped establish the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota as one of the leading cardiological centres in the world.
He was born in Portglenone, County Antrim, son of a Presbyterian minister, and educated at the local primary school, Campbell College, Belfast and Queen's University, Belfast, where he graduated in medicine. After completing his internship and residency at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, he was appointed lecturer in physiology at Queen's University in 1947. In 1953, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the Mayo Clinic, for one year to engage in cardiovascular research. Although he returned to Ulster afterwards, in 1957 he emigrated to the United States where he spent the rest of his career. Described as a "visionary", he was President of the American Heart Association in 1975-76, served as a NASA adviser and led United States scientific exchanges with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, where much joint study was carried out on space physiology. He made major contributions to understanding the regulation of the circulatory system, and had to his name some 300 scientific publications and four books, including a personal memoir. He was also a Fellow both of the Royal College of Physicians, and the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.
At the Mayo Clinic he was Director of Research from 1969-76, and this capacity and as a member of the Board of Trustees, Shepherd was instrumental in enabling Mayo Clinic to become a degree-granting institution in 1972. He was appointed Director for Education of the Mayo Foundation and was Dean of the new Mayo Medical School from 1977-83. This included responsibility for the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine and Mayo School of Health-Related Sciences. From 1983-88, he chaired the Mayo Board of Development.
Amongst many tributes paid to him, he was described as "a giant in cardiovascular physiology who made fundamental observations about blood pressure regulation in humans and many other elements of cardiovascular control." The same tribute added that Shepherd was "a visionary leader who engaged in and promoted translational research 30 or 40 years before it was a buzz word at NIH (National Institutes of Health) and in the scientific community." His various academic honours included honorary degrees from the Universities of Bologna, Ghent and Queen's, Belfast.
|Born:||21 May 1919|
|Died:||6 October 2011|
www.mayoclinic.org; Ballymena Times, 18 October 2011
© 2017 Ulster History Circle