Lopez was born in Washington, D.C. and is the son of U.S. Air Force pilot and Smithsonian Institution official Donald Lopez. He was educated at the University of Virginia, receiving a B.A. (Hons) in Religious Studies in 1974, an M.A. in Buddhist Studies in 1977, and his doctorate in Buddhist Studies in 1982. He is married to another prominent Religious Studies scholar, Tomoko Masuzawa.
^Donald Lopez (introduction Dale Martin) (2008). The Scientific Buddha: Past, Present, Future - "A Purified Religion" (lecturer introduction) (YouTube video). Yale University. Event occurs at 01:35~02:31. Retrieved April 23, 2015. I've known Don Lopez for about twenty years. I began teaching at Duke University in 1988, and Don's wife, Tomoko Masuzawa, who is a theorist in religious studies, was in the Religious Studies Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, just down the road. Don, who was just about to start teaching then at the University of Michigan, would be in Chapel Hill regularly. We all became not only colleagues and regular dialogue partners on issues of religion and culture; we also became good friends. We've eaten many dinners together, and drunk much wine; we've commiserated together through many disappointing political seasons, especially, it seems, in North Carolina during the Jesse Helms Dark Ages. But we've also vacationed together on the beaches in North Carolina. Both Tomoko and Don are valued friends, and it's with real joy and affection that I introduce him tonight.