'Larger Than Life' Physician Stephen Schwartz Dies of COVID-19 at 78

Megan Brooks

March 19, 2020

Stephen M. Schwartz, MD, PhD, a pioneer in the field of vascular biology and a longtime professor of pathology at the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine, Seattle, died March 17 after being hospitalized with COVID-19. He was 78.

"This has become all too real," UW President Ana Mari Cauce said on Facebook, where she described Schwartz as "larger than life," and superimposed a photo of him in front of Mount Rainier, according to a report in the Seattle Times.  

Schwartz is "rightfully considered a giant among investigators of the biology of smooth muscle cells and the structure of blood vessels," Paul Ramsey, MD, CEO of UW Medicine, said in a statement.He will be remembered for his "vigorous advocacy for research and for the field of vascular biology as well as for his many trainees who have gone on to great success as independent investigators in the field of vascular pathobiology," Ramsey said.

Schwartz received a BA in biology from Harvard University in 1963 and an MD from Boston University in 1967. Schwartz started a residency in the UW Department of Pathology in 1967 and received his PhD from the institution in 1973. From 1974 to 1979, he was an assistant professor of pathology and became a full professor in 1984.

Schwartz was also an adjunct professor in the UW Departments of Bioengineering and Medicine, "reflective of his many collaborative relationships with faculty in other departments in our medical school and in the world," Ramsey said.

"Dr Schwartz left a lasting imprint on the UW School of Medicine and the broader scientific community. He will be greatly missed," he added.

"A Great Loss"

Schwartz chaired numerous national and international meetings in the field of vascular biology. He was the founding chair of the Gordon Research Conference on Vascular Biology and a cofounder and second president of the North American Vascular Biology Organization (NAVBO). He created NAVBO's flagship summer course, Vasculata.

"The NAVBO community has suffered a great loss," Bernadette Englert, executive officer for the organization, said in a statement.

He will be "sorely missed by generations of vascular biologists and pathologists," she added.

News of Schwartz's passing lit up Twitter. Here are a just a few comments:

UW lost to COVID-19 "beloved professor Stephen Schwartz, a pioneer in vascular biology and a larger than life scientist. Steve, you will be missed!" Rong Tian, MD, PhD, (@rongtian2), with the bioengineering department, wrote in a tweet.



"Stephen Schwartz was a giant in vascular biology and a mentor to countless faculty and trainees, including myself. He will be deeply missed," said Kelly Stevens, PhD, (@kellystevenslab), also from the bioengineering department.


"What a sad day for the healthcare industry. I hope this pandemic ends already as the lives of our healthcare workers and frontliners are on the line, every single day. Praying for everyone," wrote @larncat.


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