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Dr. Mary E. Schmidt Case

Year of Birth / Death

b. 1943

Medical School

St. Louis University School of Medicine



Career Path

Diagnostic and therapeutic services: Anatomic pathology
Diagnostic and therapeutic services: Forensic pathology
Diagnostic and therapeutic services: Neuropathology
Dr. Mary E. Schmidt Case


My personal experience with family physicians as a child with minor illnesses made the impression of a physician as someone who really made a difference in our lives. I was always fascinated by science from about age 5 on. By early high school I had decided upon medicine.


Chief medical examiner in four Missouri counties and professor of pathology at St. Louis University Health Sciences Center, Mary E. Case, M.D., is a forensic expert on crimes against children. Combining her subspecialties in anatomic, forensic, and neuropathology, Dr. Case is an expert on shaken baby syndrome — brain and body injuries resulting from an abuser's violent shaking of a child — and is frequently called upon to give her analysis of the evidence in criminal cases regarding the deaths of children.

Born in Jefferson City, Missouri, in 1943, Mary E. Schmidt Case has remained in Missouri throughout her life. In 1965 she received her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia, and then earned her doctor of medicine degree at the St. Louis University School of Medicine. She has been associated with the St. Louis University School of Medicine ever since. After graduating in 1969, she completed residencies in pathology and neuropathology and was a postdoctoral fellow at the school's National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke. After finishing her postdoctoral training, she began teaching there as an instructor in pathology in 1973. In 1999 she was appointed full professor.

During her early career, Dr. Case served as a consultant in neuropathology at St. John's Mercy and St. Luke's Hospitals. She became assistant medical examiner of St. Louis County in 1977, and in 1980 was named deputy chief medical examiner for the city of St. Louis. In 1986 she was appointed chief medical examiner of St. Charles County. She has also served as chief medical examiner for St. Louis, Jefferson, and Franklin Counties. Since the mid-1980s, Dr. Case has served as chief medical examiner for the entire St. Louis metropolitan area.

Dr. Case was a featured physician in the National Institutes of Health video, Women are Pathologists. She is a member of the editorial review boards for Archives of Internal Medicine, the American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, and the Quarterly Child Abuse Medical Update. A fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Society of Clinical Pathology, Dr. Case is a member of the board of directors of the National Association of Medical Examiners. In 1990, the Metropolitan St. Louis Young Women's Christian Association recognized Dr. Case with its Special Leadership Award for the Professions. In 2001 she was named Faculty Woman of the Year at St. Louis University.

Question and Answer

What was my biggest obstacle?

I came along at a time when women were not in great numbers in medicine. I was told along the way in high school and in college: "Medicine is not really something women should do." I did not experience prejudice in my medical school and training years.

How do I make a difference?

I make a difference in many ways. I diagnose why people die. Sometimes even uncover a murder and frequently I find evidence to such cases. But maybe more importantly, in being so familiar with violence and how it effects us, I can encourage people to live safely and in healthy ways.

Who was my mentor?

I had several. My parents and grandmother were early mentors of my intelligence and desire to be a doctor. Professionally, Dr. Frank Lucas, Dr. James Nelson, and Dr. George Gentner were all mentors.

How has my career evolved over time?

I am both a neuropathologist and forensic pathologist. My experience in neuropathology provides an insight into many cases of child abuse, as many are head injury cases. During the past twenty years, I have developed a subspecialty in the area of child abuse.