Nikolajs A. Lapins was born in Riga, Latvia, and was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Washington. He is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Medicine. A residency in dermatology was completed at Brooke Army Medical Center, followed a year later by a fellowship in dermatopathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. A final fellowship in Mohs micrographic surgery and dermatologic surgery was completed at the University of California San Francisco.

Dr. Lapins was the first Mohs surgeon in the United States Army Medical Corps. He was the chief of dermatologic surgery at Letterman Army Medical Center for many years, retiring as a full colonel in 1989. Since that time, he has been in private practice in the Bay Area, and now practices exclusively in Burlingame. Dr. Lapins has a wide range of interests in dermatology, but is particularly known for Mohs micrographic surgery for problem skin cancers.

Dr. Lapins is a full clinical professor in the dermatology department at University of California San Francisco. He is a member of many local and national medical organizations.

He is fluent in Latvian.