Trained at UCLA’s Brain Research Institute, Dr. Schwartz is a full-time stem cell biologist and holds the Supervisor Senior Scientist position at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) Research Institute, having worked there since 1996. Dr. Schwartz is the Founder and Director of CHOC’s National Human Neural Stem Cell Resource, and an Associate Research Biologist at the nearby University of California, Irvine.
Dr. Schwartz’ early work included studies of several models of energy failure-induced brain damage as well as preclinical and clinical studies of pharmacologic agents aimed at maintaining cerebral perfusion and/or neuroprotection. This work involved translational research for improving the treatment of neonatal and pediatric intensive care unit patients that had suffered brain injury or disease. For the last fourteen years, he has been involved in the harvest of neural stem cells from human brains of patients (primarily children) that have died with neurogenetic disease. This research in his laboratory is directed towards understanding the biology of neural stem cells and their differentiated derivatives, neurons and glia, in the normal and neurogenetically-diseased brain. This work now includes the use of neural stem cells differentiated from induced pluripotent stem cells derived from skin fibroblasts and other somatic cells. His research evaluating the efficacy of neural stem cell transplantation in an animal model of a fatal pediatric neurodegenerative disease has direct application to the clinical use of stem cells for the treatment of children with neurodevelopmental disorders, the major clinical focus of Dr. Schwartz and his clinical colleagues at CHOC. Part of this work involves the construction of a clinical cell production facility. Other work is focused on using neural stem cells derived from patients with autism in an effort to define new therapeutic and diagnostic targets for this most prevalent and enigmatic neurodevelopmental disorder.
Dr. Schwartz’ laboratory currently consists of three PhD Scientists and seven support staff. Dr. Schwartz regularly participates in special study sections on stem cells at the NIH and reviews grant applications and manuscripts for a large number of other granting agencies and journals. He was a member of the NIH Embryonic Stem Cell Challenge Grant Distinguished Editors Panel and is a member of the FDA’s Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee. Dr. Schwartz has published more than 60 book chapters and manuscripts and has edited 2 books. He also regularly disseminates stem cell research information to the lay public by way of lectures and the print, television, and radio media. He is extramurally-funded by the National Institutes of Health and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.