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Schwarz named vice chair for research in radiation oncology

Physician-scientist also treats patients with cervical cancer

by Michelle LinhardtMay 10, 2019

Washington University

Julie K. Schwarz, MD, PhD, has been appointed vice chair for research in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Schwarz is an associate professor of radiation oncology and director of the Cancer Biology Division, and she treats patients with cervical cancer at Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.

Her research includes gynecologic oncology, tumor metabolism, molecular imaging and biomarker development. Her lab, which receives National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, incorporates molecular biology, genetic engineering and imaging to answer fundamental questions about tumor biology and what drives tumor appearance on diagnostic images, including positron emission tomography (PET) and MRI scans.

Schwarz’s research also seeks to identify predictive biomarkers that can be used in the clinic to improve outcomes for patients. More recently, she has used such information to design targeted therapies, including strategies that cut off a tumor’s fuel supply, to improve responses to radiation treatment.

“Dr. Schwarz is a truly exceptional physician-scientist, and I am excited to see how her passion for research will synergize all of the goals in our three divisions,” said Dennis E. Hallahan, MD, the Elizabeth H. and James S. McDonnell III Distinguished Professor of Medicine and head of the Department of Radiation Oncology. “In this role, she will be able to increase collaborative research efforts across our three divisions and further the department’s research vision and planning. Dr. Schwarz will mentor faculty in grant writing and help develop the overall strategic direction for our research programs. Dr. Schwarz will provide excellent leadership for each of these programs.”

Schwarz has served as a section chair at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Future of Radiobiology Workshop and is an active member of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO)/NCI Radiobiology Consensus Workshop, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Radiation Oncology Think Tank, AACR Radiation Science & Medicine Working Group and the ASTRO Community of Radiation Oncology Physician Scientists. She serves as the councilor of medicine for the Radiation Research Society and also is a member of the NCI Task Force for Cervical Cancer.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree at Duke University, Schwarz came to Washington University School of Medicine, where she graduated from the Medical Scientist Training Program. She completed her internship and residency in radiation oncology at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and then joined the School of Medicine faculty.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 1,500 faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is a leader in medical research, teaching and patient care, ranking among the top 10 medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.