Lawrence B. Schwartz, MD, PhD

Division Chair

Lawrence B. Schwartz, MD, PhDDivision of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology

Department: Internal Medicine


Lawrence B. Schwartz, MD, PhD, received his MD and PhD degrees in medicine and biochemistry from Washington University before completing an internal medicine residency at Barnes Hospital and fellowships in allergy, immunology and rheumatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and diagnostic laboratory immunology at VCU. Schwartz joined the faculty at Harvard in 1980 as an assistant professor and moved to VCU in 1983, where he is now the Charles and Evelyn Thomas Professor of Medicine, chair of the Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology, and program director of allergy and immunology. At VCU, he has received awards for research and for technical innovation. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.

Dr. Schwartz has served several non-profit organizations. In the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, Schwartz has served as chair of the Mechanisms of Allergy interest section, the grant review committee, the J Allery Clin Immunol liaison committee, the Allergy-Immunology Program Directors Assembly and as an at-large member of the Board of Directors from 2000-03 chaired the research and education subcommittee. At the NIH, he was a member of the Immunological Sciences study section from 1988-94 and its chair from 1992-94 and continues to serve on study sections as a member of the NIH Reviewers Reserve. In 1997, he was elected to the American Board of Allergy and Immunology and served as its chair in 2001. In 2008, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America where he chairs their research agenda. In 2008, he was elected a councilor of the Clinical Immunology Society and is in line to become the CIS president in 2012, and serves as an associate editor the society's journal, the Journal of Clinical Immunology.

His research career at Washington University in the MD-PhD program occurred under the supervision of Robert Roeder, PhD, where he purified and characterized eukaryotic RNA polymerases I and II. At Harvard University under the tutelage of Frank Austen, MD, and Steve Wasserman, MD, he was introduced to mast cells and consequently to allergy and immunology. Schwartz’s laboratory research since then has focused on mast cells and basophils, resulting in more than 300 publications and being listed as an ISI Highly Cited Researcher. This research has been continuously funded by the NIH for over 30 years. He was chosen to receive a MERIT award in 1990 and in 2008 became the principal investigator of an NIH Asthma and Allergic Diseases Cooperative Research Center at VCU.

Noteworthy accomplishments of his research laboratory have been the discovery, purification, cloning and characterization of human α/β tryptases, development of immunoassays for tryptases as biomarkers of disorders involving mast cells, identification of in vitro conditions for the development of human mast cells from progenitors and for culturing tissue-derived human mast cells, and the identification and characterization of different types of human mast cells. Physicians throughout the world now use the measurement of tryptase as a biomarker to assist with the diagnoses of systemic mastocytosis (a WHO criterion and FDA-approved for this purpose) and systemic anaphylaxis, to monitor mast cell cytoreductive therapy and to assess anaphylactic risk.

Lawrence B. Schwartz, MD, PhD
Professor & Chair
Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology

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