Human biology professor Lawrence Zaroff dies

April 21, 2015, 11:40 p.m.

Lawrence Zaroff, a consulting professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and the Program in Human Biology, passed away Monday morning. Zaroff was also a senior research scholar at the Center for Biomedical Ethics.

Zaroff earned his M.D. from George Washington University in 1956 and proceeded to work as a cardiac surgeon for 29 years before coming to Stanford in 2000 to complete his Ph.D. His research interests included the relationship between literature and medicine, the history of medicine and pacemaker technology. He wrote a column for the Science Section of The New York Times in the 2000s and volunteered as a family doctor at the Marin Health and Wellness Clinic.

Prior to his death, Zaroff had been teaching Human Biology 175S: Novels and Theaters of Illness. According to Paul Fisher, director of the Program in Human Biology, the class will continue with a yet-to-be-determined replacement instructor.

In an email to students and faculty in the department, Fisher described Zaroff’s contributions to the field and offered condolences to those grieving.

“Larry had a special niche in the medical humanities, and he touched dozens and dozens of Stanford students, alumni, staff and faculty over many years in Human Biology and beyond,” Fisher said. “He was known always to challenge a student, make each individual think, and then ask that person to speak and engage strongly.”

Zaroff’s family will hold a remembrance and celebration of Zaroff’s life on May 3 at his daughter’s home.


Contact Victor Xu at vxu ‘at’

Victor Xu '17 is an editor and graphics designer. An economics major, he hails from Carmel, IN. He is interested in international development and Kanye West. To contact Victor, email him at vxu ‘at’

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