Skip to Main Content

Dr. John J. Sheinin

John J. Sheinin, MD, PhD, DSc, a gifted anatomist and dedicated leader, joined the Chicago Medical School in 1932 as Chairman of the Department of Anatomy, was appointed Dean of CMS in 1935, and then President in 1950, a role he served until his retirement in 1966.

Dr. Sheinin’s vision gave impetus to the establishment of a University of Health Sciences in 1967. This development was a key first step toward the university’s interprofessional mission, and the Chicago Medical School/University of Health Sciences became one of the first institutions in the country to move in the direction of training students for a variety of health care professions. Within a year, the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies welcomed its first student, and within three years, programs in the School of Related Health Sciences, today the College of Health Professions, began to matriculate students.

Under his leadership, academic advances and an increase in economic resources propelled CMS in 1948 to become the only school, of 79 independent institutions, to achieve full accreditation by the American Medical Association and membership in the American Association of Medical Colleges. Later in his tenure, Dr. Sheinin expanded research and built the Institute for Research in 1961.

Born in Bobruysk, Russia in 1900, he narrowly fled the Bolshevik Revolution in 1920, coming to the United States as a refugee without any financial resources and speaking no English. Over the next eight years, Dr. Sheinin worked in a factory, and as a sign painter, salesman, and instructor in the anatomy department at the University of Alabama while pursuing his undergraduate education at the university. By 1933, he had earned a PhD and an MD from Northwestern University, where he served as a fellow in anatomy during his graduate education. In addition his scientific talent, Dr. Sheinin also practiced his artistic skill through drawing and as art editor for his college yearbook.  

Dr. Sheinin was recognized in First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s nationally syndicated “My Day” newspaper column in 1949, received an honorary DSc degree bestowed by CMS that same year, and was given the Horatio Alger Award in 1957. Posthumously, Rosalind Franklin University has named two prominent spaces on campus in his honor, the John J. Sheinin, MD, PhD, DSc, Gross Anatomy Laboratory, dedicated in 2003 and, in 2018, the Dr. John J. Sheinin Legacy Lobby.

It was because of Dr. Sheinin that countless Chicago Medical School alumni were given the opportunity to pursue their dreams of becoming physicians. The Chicago Medical School will always remain a monument to his wisdom, energies and enthusiasm.