Death of pediatric allergist Gail Greenberg Shapiro

August 25, 2006

Dr. Gail Greenberg Shapiro.

Photo courtesy of The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Gail Greenberg Shapiro’s career as a doctor was remarkable in modern medical practice: she worked at the Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center for her entire career, treating over 36,000 patients over 31 years.  Her patients emphasized another of her qualities they found remarkable—whether it was calling them at home just to see how they were doing or battling insurance companies on their behalf, Dr. Shapiro seemed to really care.  "In this day and age, doctors really aren't able to do that," said her patient Rita Wright.

Born in Brooklyn, New York on January 11, 1947 to Jay and Roberta Greenberg, Shapiro’s early years were spent in Syosset, Long Island.  She graduated summa cum laude from Brown University and received her MD from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1970.  She moved to Seattle in 1971 to pursue a specialty in pediatric allergy.  There she combined research with a clinical practice in Seattle and participated in trials of antihistamines and other drugs intended to treat asthma, rhinitis, hives and eczema.  She established new guidelines for diagnosing asthma, which was often confused with bronchitis.

In the 1990s Shapiro created with Dr. Gary S. Rachelefsky the “Pediatric Asthma Guide” distributed to physicians, nurses and school administrators, which helped them in diagnosing the disease before an acute attack might occur.  This booklet still remains in use.

In 2001, Dr. Shapiro was the first democratically elected president of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.  She was honored in October 2006 by the American Academy of Pediatrics as the recipient of the Bret Ratner Award, the highest award given to a Pediatric Allergist from the AAP.

"She did all this extra stuff for everyone who needed help," her patient Anna McCartney said. "It's a pretty amazing doctor who can have that sort of relationship with so many patients."

Sources: This Day in Jewish History; “Gail Shapiro, 59, made each patient feel special,” Seattle Times, September 2, 2006; “Gail G. Shapiro Clinical Faculty Fund,” American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology; “Gail G. Shapiro, 59 Allergist Who Studied Child Treatments, Is Dead,” New York Times, September 8, 2006.


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