Lives of the fellows

John Thompson Shepherd

b.21 May 1919 d.4 October 2011
MB BCh Queen’s University Belfast(1945) MCh(1948) MD(1951) DSc(1956) FRCP(1977) Hon FACC

John Thompson Shepherd was director of research at the Mayo Foundation and dean of Mayo Medical School, Minnesota, USA. He was born in Northern Ireland, the son of William Frederick Shepherd, a Presbyterian minister. He was educated at Royal Campbell College, Belfast, and then studied medicine at Queen’s University Belfast, qualifying in 1945 with a gold medal. Two of his brothers and five nephews and nieces became physicians, as did his daughter and son.

After junior posts at Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, he joined the staff of Queen’s University. He was a Fulbright scholar at the Mayo Clinic, where he engaged in cardiovascular research. He returned to Northern Ireland and from 1954 he was a reader in physiology at Queen’s University.

In 1957 he decided to emigrate to the United States and returned to the Mayo Clinic. He was professor and chairman of the department of physiology and biophysics at the Mayo Medical School and Mayo Graduate School of Medicine from 1966 to 1974. From 1969 to 1976 he was director of research at the Mayo Foundation. In 1977 he was appointed as director of the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine and School of Health Related Sciences and dean of Mayo Medical School. He was a member of the Mayo Clinic board of governors and of the Mayo Foundation board of trustees.

His main research focus was on the cardiovascular system, and he outlined how the nervous system, as well as the kidneys, plays a role in blood pressure regulation.

He was also a key figure in space medicine. From 1968 to 1974 he was chairman of the committee on space medicine at the National Academy of Sciences, space science board. He was also a member of the National Aeronautics and Space Agency’s (NASA) life sciences advisory committee.

He was president of the American Heart Association from 1975 to 1976, and on the board of management of the Interamerican Society of Cardiology from 1976 to 1980.

He was married twice. In 1945 he married Helen Mary Johnston, the daughter of a linen merchant. They had a daughter, Gillian, and a son, Roger. Helen died in 1987 and in 1989 he married Marion, who, with his children, survived him.

RCP editor

[BBC News Northern Ireland Belfast-born physician Dr John Shepherd dies 8 October 2011 www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-15224533 – accessed 28 September 2016]

(Volume XII, page web)

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