Schwartz Named IBT Associate Director

February 11, 2005

Robert J. Schwartz, Ph.D., has been appointed as associate director for the Institute of Biosciences and Technology (IBT), which is located in Houston in the Texas Medical Center and is a component of The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center. In addition, Dr. Schwartz will direct the newly established Center for Molecular Development and Diseases at IBT.
Schwartz previously was at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he served as a tenured professor in the Departments of Cell Biology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Medicine, and Molecular Physiology. He also was co-director of the Baylor College of Medicine Center for Cardiovascular Development and had a Presidential Endowment.
During his more than thirty years at Baylor, Schwartz became widely recognized for his research on the developmental and genetic aspects of congenital heart disease. He studies the way in which genes that create the heart are first turned on and function and seeks to apply the knowledge of how the heart is normally made to generating new heart cells for diseased or damaged hearts. In this field he has received seven U.S. patents and co-founded three companies.
Schwartz’s research has been supported by numerous large, long-term grants.
In October 2004, he  along with five other scientists who will serve as principal investigators  received a $6 million, five-year grant from Fondation Leduq, based in Paris, France. This grant sets up a transatlantic effort to study ways to help damaged hearts repair themselves, using stem cells from bone marrow, bloodstream, and adult heart tissue. Also, Schwartz is in the eleventh year of a $10 million program project grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate genetic approaches to early cardiac development.
“Dr. Schwartz’s exceptional background in research and innovative biotechnology will be a huge asset for IBT,” said Richard H. Finnell, Ph.D., director of the institute. “This addition to our growing faculty numbers will enhance our academic excellence and graduate student programs. We’re excited to have him on our team.”
Dr. Schwartz received his bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College and his Ph.D.
from the University of Pennsylvania. After serving as a teaching fellow there and holding a postdoctoral fellowship, he joined the laboratory of Bert W. O’Malley in the Department of Cell Biology at Baylor College of Medicine as a research associate and rose steadily through the professorial ranks.
“My vision for the Institute of Biosciences and Technology,” said Schwartz, “fits with that of its dynamic leader, Dr. Rick Finnell. Building on IBT’s solid base of discovery research, together we will move IBT’s research efforts from laboratory bench to the population. We will do this by focusing IBT’s efforts on rational drug discovery. We will work to benefit not only present and future heart disease sufferers, but also those who have been and will be afflicted by various forms of cancer. I am excited by the opportunities we have before us.”

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