Charles and Evelyn Thomas Professor of Medicine
Virginia Commonwealth University
Lawrence Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D., the Charles and Evelyn Thomas Professor of Medicine and Chair of the Division of Rheumatology Allergy and Immunology, joined the Virginia Commonwealth University faculty in 1983, emerging as an innovative and leading translational research investigator who has made fundamental discoveries about mast cells and basophils, publishing over 350 manuscripts, and bringing his bench discoveries to the bedside. Noteworthy accomplishments include the discovery of human α/β tryptases, proteases selectively expressed by mast cells, creation of clinically useful immunoassays for tryptases as biomarkers of disorders involving mast cells, development of in vitro conditions for the differentiation of human mast cells from progenitors and for culturing tissue-derived human mast cells, and the identification of two types of human mast cells. His assay for tryptase is now used throughout the world to facilitate the diagnosis of systemic mastocytosis (a WHO criterion and FDA approved for this purpose). His contributions as Program Director of Allergy and Immunology from 1983-2014 training practitioners who have carried the knowledge, professionalism and self-learning skills from VCU to their postgraduate endeavors, fulfills the mission to educate those who serve humanity to improve human health, and his service activities both within the VCU community, and for national and international organizations frame his excellence in service. Dr. Schwartz’s activities in teaching, discovery and service have had a substantial impact on the broader knowledge base.
Dr. Schwartz has been recognized by VCU with an endowed chair and awards for research (Triennial Award for Sustained Research Excellence, Internal Medicine, 1998) and innovation (Billy R. Martin Innovation Award, 2008); nationally by his research grants including continuous NIH funding for over 30 years, including an NIH MERIT award; and most recently as the recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Scientist Award from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology and the 2015 Scientist of the Year Award from the European Competence Network on Mastocytosis. He has been elected to honorary societies such as the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians, and to leadership positions, including Chair of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology (2001), President of the Clinical Immunology Society (2011-12), Chair of the AAAAI Program Directors Assembly (2010-12) and Grant Review Committee (2002-7), and Chair of the NIH Immunological Sciences (1992-4) and NIAID Inner City Asthma Consortium (2002) study sections; and internationally by his numerous invitations to lecture and collaborate.
"My work … has uncovered mastocytosis in many patients for whom this problem might otherwise have remained undiagnosed, significantly improving their care."