Joan Rankin Shapiro, M.D., Ph.D.

SEPS & Kids Brain Matter Too,
St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center

Dr. Joan Shapiro, Vice President of Clinical Research at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, began her professional career as a high school science teacher, but this highly motivated woman was not willing to stop there. Eventually the challenge of research sent her back to college to earn an MD, as well as a PhD.

To date she has devoted nearly three decades to studying neuro-oncology as a scientist but, she has never forgotten the inquisitive minds of her high school students. Determined to help stimulate an interest in science among the young, she developed two programs, one for high school students and one that can be tailored for both elementary and high school students. The first program, Scientific Enrichment Program for Students (SEPS), was co-developed with Dr. Adrienne Scheck and offers highly motivated high school students the chance to participate in scientific research.

Today, 75 Arizona high schools participate in SEPS. The faculty and staff of Barrow Neurological Institute’s Neurology Research Laboratory administers the program that allows students the opportunity to work at such esteemed laboratories as St. Joseph’s, which includes Barrow; the Mayo Clinic-Scottsdale; Arizona State University and the Translational Genomics Research Institute.

The second program is Kids Brain Matter Too, developed in 1999, and designed to teach children and teenagers about brain development and the need to protect the brain from injury and the effects of alcohol, drugs, smoking, stroke and other diseases.

According to Joan, “Mentors and teachers directed my life so I pass it on. My best reward is when someone I helped helps someone else.”

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