ACS Remembers Howard M. Shapiro

Dear ACS Community and Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that we have to say goodbye to Howard Shapiro one of all the greatest cytometrists of all time. He was one of the founding fathers (grandfathers) of cytometry making it what it is today.
The Australasian Cytometry Society embraced Howard and he became an honorary member of our in its early days. He made many trips across the pacific to join us at our annual conferences as well as teaching faculty at the Australasian Cytometry Workshops and Courses. In the last few years when it was hard for him to travel so far, he did not give up and continued to present and teach virtually (we had it down pat before it became popular due to the current pandemic).
One of Howards’ happiest memories of Australia is when he had an opportunity to fly a plane for the first time it was in far North Queensland after the ISAC congress on Hamilton Island. He was in awe of the Australian Sulphur crested cockatoo and its ability to break into his hotel room from the balcony and rummage looking for food and whatever else took its fancy.
He loved coming down under and we loved having him here. A quote from Howard as to one of the many reasons he was drawn to us “One thing I really admire about you Aussies is your low threshold for BS and your ability to detect it”.
At ISAC and CYTO congresses, we gave Howard an “Aussie pass” so he could join our Aussie/Kiwi parties. He was always great value especially with entertainment even more so when he had brought his guitar along.
Howard was so generous with his knowledge and was happy to share it with whoever approached him, he was able to answer any question or give advice regardless of the cytometry application. His capacity to store so much knowledge and superfast recall would have an answer back to you immediately. Most cytometry laboratories around the world will have at least one of the four editions of the cytometry bible “Practical Flow Cytometry” written by Howard.
His song There’s No Business Like Flow Business tells us how much he loved the cytometry world. (Sung to the tune of There’s no business like show business).

There’s No Business Like Flow Business
When Show Business is slow
Where else can you play around with high tech lasers, computers and cell clones
I go into the lab each day and tritech makes out with my tech it’s in my bones.
There’s No people Like Flow People
They smile were lights are low even when there’s mycoplasma in your cells and your laser smokes and emits bad smells.
Still you wouldn’t trade it for a stack of gels boo for PCR.
Well I know I wouldn’t I know.

His drive to address the need for global diseases such as malaria took on an extra passion for Howard in the last couple of decades of his life. He worked closely with people in our region as well as with clinicians from Papua New Guinea to help address the need to battle malaria. He engineered simple technology on the cheap to address the needs in resource poor countries with an aim for quick point of care diagnosis for malaria.
Howard you have and always will have a place in our hearts, you were more than a colleague you were our mate. Thank you for all you have taught us, all the happy memories you have given us your legacy will live on and on and on.
We will miss you so much.


Grace Chojnowski

3 thoughts on “ACS Remembers Howard M. Shapiro”

  1. Indeed a sad day and a great loss to the cytometry community. Howard always gave his time, his wisdom and his wit in an inimitable way. It did not matter to him whether you were a junior whipper snipper or a well experienced flow guru, he was happy to engage, chat and not only within cytometry knowledge.
    The first time I met him (was in fact at the AFCG Hamilton Island conference), I was just starting my career, a junior flow core manager. I was massively intimidated, I was in awe of this sage and guru of flow cyotmetry. I meticulously read his flow “bible” and used quotes from it regulalry, two of my favourites were “garbage in – garbage out” and something like a 100um particle will not fit through an 80um nozzle. I took up the courage to introduce myself, and his welcoming friendly demeanour immediately dissolved my anxiety. The longer the conversation went on, the more I felt I have known this person for a long time. He was so approachable. We broached the subject of music, as I saw he had his guitar with him. He played me a few flow tunes, and then I said, Howard, I play too and I brough my guitar along. Would you mind having a jam with me? … and so there we were on the beautiful beach on Hamilton Island, guitars in hand, playing some old blues classics, big smiles on our faces. I don’t know how long we were there for, but neither of us was in a rush to end the session. In the end, we bid farewell, he pulled out his yellow CD (Songs for the Jaundiced Ear) and signed it for me, with a personal message (Gez – duets next time – signed with a beret wearing Panda – Howard (he loved Pandas). I presume he meant next time he gets up and does his songs at a conference we both attended, we could do them together- sadly that never eventuated. I still treasure and display it in my collection. Of course I approached him many times during that conference and many, many others. He was always so friendly, approachable and welcoming, a smile came with his wisdom. Thank you Howard, for all that you’ve done for cytometry, directly and indirectly, you are and will always be a legend, but also you were a humble beautiful gentleman. RIP Dear Howard.

  2. One of the greats! You will be missed but not forgotten. Your legacy will continue on in the world of cytometry long after your guitar strings have frayed. RIP H. Shapiro

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