James Shapiro, son of a family doctor, was born in Leeds, England. He studied medicine in Newcastle and trained in surgery in Bristol. As a medical student, he developed a long-standing interest in islet transplantation. Since 1998, he has been on faculty at the University of Alberta, where he now holds the Canada Research Chair in Transplantation Surgery and Regenerative Medicine. He directs the living donor liver transplant and the islet transplant programs in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He was the lead investigator on the famous Edmonton Protocol cell transplant treatment for diabetes.
He is the Project 1 lead for the Canadian National Transplant Research Program (CNTRP), which is actively researching ex vivo organ transplant repair. In 2016, his team began the first in-human trials with embryonic stem cell-derived insulin-producing cells transplanted in an immunoisolation device.
Dr. Shapiro is the recipient of a Hunterian Medal from the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Gold Medal in Surgery. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.