DHHS, NIH News  
NIH Office of the Director (OD)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

Monday, October 25, 2004

OD Office of Communications and Public Liaison

David A. Schwartz, M.D., Named New Director of NIH's National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Bethesda, Maryland — National Institutes of Health Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., today announced the appointment of David A. Schwartz, M.D., as the new director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Toxicology Program (NTP). Dr. Schwartz is currently director of the Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Division and Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Medicine at Duke University. At Duke, Dr. Schwartz played a principal role in developing three interdisciplinary Centers in Environmental Health Sciences, Environmental Genomics, and Environmental Asthma.

Dr. David A. Schwartz
Dr. David A. Schwartz
"Dr. Schwartz is one of the nation's outstanding researchers in environmental health," Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said. "He will play a key scientific leadership role at NIH, since environmental exposures account for a substantial proportion of the causes of many of the common diseases in America."

"We are extremely fortunate to have David join us," added Dr. Zerhouni. "Environmental health sciences are playing an increasingly critical role in our understanding of many diseases. His interdisciplinary approach, involving human and molecular genetics, the medical sciences, and environmental genetics and genomics, will help lead us to well conceived strategies for preventing, diagnosing, and treating disease."

Dr. Schwartz will replace Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., who successfully led NIEHS since 1991, and stepped down last year. Dr. Olden agreed to remain in the position until a successor was named. Dr. Olden will remain at NIEHS as a researcher in the intramural program. Dr. Schwartz will join NIH on April 4, 2005.

As NIEHS director, Dr. Schwartz will oversee a $711 million budget that funds multidisciplinary biomedical research programs, prevention, and intervention efforts that encompass training, education, technology transfer, and community outreach. NIEHS is located in Research Triangle Park, near Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. NIEHS currently supports more than 850 research grants.

"I am delighted and honored to join NIH", said Dr. Schwartz. "My vision for NIEHS is to improve human health by supporting integrated research and career development in environmental sciences, environmental medicine, and environmental public health. Given recent advances in biomedical research and computational biology, NIEHS is well positioned to use its expertise in toxicology to understand human biology, disease pathogenesis, and the unique distribution of disease in different populations."

Dr. Schwartz's research focuses on the genetic and biological determinants of environmental lung disease and host defense. These efforts have provided new insights into the pathophysiology and biology of asbestos induced lung disease, interstitial lung disease, environmental airway disease, and innate immunity. This research has identified endotoxin or lipopolysaccharide as an important cause of airway disease among those exposed to organic dusts, and that a specific mutation in the Toll-4 gene is associated with a diminished airway response to inhaled LPS in humans. Recent work is focusing on the genes that regulate the innate immune response in humans, genes involved in the fibroproliferative response in the lung, and the genetic regulation of environmental asthma.

Dr. Schwartz received his B.A. Degree in Biology from the University of Rochester in 1975, his M.D. from the University of California-San Diego in 1979, and his M.P.H. from Harvard School of Public Health in 1985.

Dr. Schwartz is a co-author of more than 150 research papers, 38 book chapters, and a textbook. He has served on numerous study sections, is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of the American Physicians, and in 2003, received the American Thoracic Society Scientific Achievement Award.

NIEHS has supported Dr. Schwartz's research since 1990.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The mission of NIEHS is to reduce the burden of human illness and dysfunction from environmental causes by understanding each of these elements and how they interrelate. More information about NIEHS can be found at http://www.niehs.nih.gov.

The National Toxicology Program serves the federal regulatory health agencies with its findings and the publication of the federal Report on Carcinogens, on behalf of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The NIH comprises the Office of the Director and 27 Institutes and Centers and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. The Office of the Director is the central office at NIH, and is responsible for setting policy for NIH and for planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all the NIH components. The NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

NIH logo   Home > News & Events
Subscribe to receive future NIH news releases.