WILLIAM SHAW M.D.

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SHAW WILLIAM VARE SHAW, M.D. William Vare Shaw, M.D., died Monday, July 30, 2018 in Alexandria, Virginia. He was 85. A native of Philadelphia, and the grandson and namesake of US Senator William S. Vare, Dr. Shaw developed into a major force in the nascent world of international molecular biochemistry in the second half of the twentieth century. He began as a chemistry prodigy at Williams College, a rising star in internal medicine at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, and then became the protégé of Dr. Donald Frederickson at NIH (later its legendary director and the founding head of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute). In 1969, Dr. Shaw proposed the creation of a new biomedical center at the University of Miami as a joint venture with the British Laboratory for Molecular Biology (LMB) at Cambridge University. The LMB was the creation of the Medical Research Council (MRC), the UK's NIH, and has produced some 16 Nobel laureates from its unique organizational nexus: The LMB is an international fraternity of scientific excellence, with Nobel prizes as byproducts of its mission. Shaw began the British chapter of his life by taking a year's sabbatical at the LMB at Cambridge, but when US funding for the venture fell through, he became a permanent and integral part of the LMB and gradually became a driving force in the Medical Research Council's leadership in biochemistry. The Medical Research Council funded the entire spectrum of medical sciences, not only at the LMB and its associated institutions, but in universities and hospitals across the UK. That fact opened the way for Dr. Shaw to make his greatest contribution to the world of molecular biology: The creation and development at the University of Leicester of a new biochemical center to rival Oxford and Cambridge. Shaw's appointment as professor of biochemistry was only the first step. Five years later, Leicester, with the support of the MRC, became the first university to found a new medical school in the UK since WWII and made Dr Shaw one of its founding figures. When he retired in 1998, the University of Leicester had become a biochemistry juggernaut and a serious competitor to Oxford and Cambridge. Shaw was seen as "a true visionary who recognized that biochemistry as a discipline was changing and that the department needed to mirror these changes by expanding into areas such as structural biology and molecular biology." Dr. Shaw is survived by a younger brother, Dr. John A. Shaw, of Chevy Chase, Maryland; two sisters/cousins Susanne Vare Hulme and Mary Read "Mimi" Hulme O'Malley of Newtown Square, Pennsylvania; two cousins, Maj. Gen. (ret'd) O.L. Peacock of Cashiers, N.C, and Ida May Peacock Terry of Vero Beach, Fla. Five children; Lisa M. Shaw of Barcelona, Spain; William Scott Shaw, and Thomas Vare Shaw of Alexandria, Virginia; Katherine Shaw Patterson of Brookline, Massachusetts, and Joanna Shaw of Leicester, England, and nine grandchildren. His marriages each ended in divorce. A memorial service will be held in Chevy Chase, MD in late September, and his ashes scattered by his family on the waters of his beloved Penobscot Bay in Maine with the coming of spring. A memorial service will be held in Chevy Chase, MD in late September, and his ashes scattered by his family on the waters of his beloved Penobscot Bay in Maine with the coming of spring.
Published in The Washington Post on Aug. 12, 2018