William Schaffner, M.D.

A profile photo of William Schaffner

After receiving his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College and completing his residency, Dr. William Schaffner was invited to join the Vanderbilt faculty, ultimately becoming a professor and chairing the Department of Preventive Medicine. Since then, for more than 40 years, Dr. Schaffner has been nationally recognized as an advocate for the use of vaccines to provide a healthier lifespan from infancy through senior citizenship. A special promoter of adult vaccination, Dr. Schaffner has defended and explained vaccines through his extensive research of the topic.

A renowned teacher at the bedside, podium and in front of a camera, Dr. Schaffner has completed hundreds of interviews with national and international media. He is dedicated to educating the public about infectious diseases and their prevention and has been an ambassador for the excellence of medicine in Tennessee to the nation.

Throughout his extensive career, Dr. Schaffner has worked to elevate Tennessee’s reputation as a national leader in infectious diseases and public health. He was one of the nation’s pioneers of comprehensive infection control programs in hospitals, removing the once-serious threat of admitted patients acquring infection. His Tennessee program went on to become a standard of excellence nationwide, thereby assuring advanced patient safety around the world.

Beyond his work with infectious disease, Dr. Schaffner has continued to be a voice for the voiceless, as it was his research publication that catalyzed the passage of childhood car restraint laws in all other 49 states. This commitment to public safety assisted in saving countless lives and preventing serious injuries among young children.

But Dr. Schaffner’s work is not limited to patients throughout American hospitals. Currently, he is working with veterinarians at Tennessee’s Elephant Sanctuary to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of tuberculosis in captive elephants worldwide. He also co-chairs the Scientific Advisory Board of the Agence de Médecine Préventive, among other organizations and has received countless accolades and awards for his extensive work throughout the world.

A decorated physician, dedicated public servant and accomplished researcher, Dr. William Schaffner is a 2018 inductee of the Tennessee Health Care Hall of Fame.

William Schaffner finishing the 1977 Physician Relay Race
A screenshot of William Schaffner talking on television