April 17, 2009

Schwartz to chair Department of Orthopaedics

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Herbert Schwartz, M.D.

Schwartz to chair Department of Orthopaedics

Herbert Schwartz, M.D., professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, has been named chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation.

Effective immediately, Schwartz fills the role previously held by longtime departmental leader Dan Spengler, M.D., professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation. Last summer Spengler, who has led the department since 1983, announced plans that he wanted to step down from his administrative responsibilities to focus on his clinical duties in Vanderbilt's adult spine practice. Since then he has served as interim chair during the national search for his successor.

Herbert Schwartz, M.D., left, is succeeding Dan Spengler, M.D., as chair of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Herbert Schwartz, M.D., left, is succeeding Dan Spengler, M.D., as chair of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation. (photo by Susan Urmy)

“Schwartz is excellent for the department,” said Spengler. “I am 100 percent supportive of him and feel really good about leaving the department in his hands as we move forward.

“We have come a long way together,” he said. “Dr. Schwartz is just an all-around great choice for continuing our program and taking us forward. He is well respected, nationally recognized and has achieved so much in the area of research.”

The formal announcement was made late last week by Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

“Dr. Schwartz is an outstanding physician, teacher and mentor,” said Balser. “With his long record of service to Vanderbilt and broad research interests, I know he will lead the department into a bright future. I am thrilled that he has accepted the position.”

Schwartz came to Vanderbilt in 1987 after completing a fellowship in Orthopaedic Oncology at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in 1986. He received his medical degree from the University of Chicago School of Medicine in 1981, followed by an internship and residency at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics.

His clinical interests include sarcoma management, limb-salvage surgery, limb-girdle and complex pelvic surgery as well as the treatment of metastatic cancer in both children and adults. The molecular biology and proteomics of sarcoma, bone metastasis and tissue engineering are his areas of research specialty.

“Herb Schwartz is one of the county's leading orthopaedic specialists,” said Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “It is only fitting that someone with his degree of expertise, recognition and compassion lead our clinical and research orthopaedic enterprise to the next level.”

Schwartz's goals for the department ultimately focus on patients, residents and faculty.

“Our No. 1 priority: we will continue to take excellent care of our patients,” Schwartz said. “We want to continue to educate our future leaders in orthopaedic surgery and we want to promote our faculty. Although we are well known locally and regionally, I want to make sure we have national and international recognition. I think we are ready to step up into the top tier.

“The challenge for us is to promote and continue to grow our research program,” Schwartz said. “We can really become productive in the basic science arena, which is our goal over the next five years. We are a key lynchpin in the entire Medical Center's translational concept. I think Orthopaedics is well suited for the clinician/scientist, as both the individual and department work within the many facets available at a medical center like Vanderbilt.

“There is a lot of opportunity here. I am confident we will take advantage of it,” he said. “When I'm done (in his role as chair), I want to make sure the department is even better than when I inherited it.”

Schwartz, the most senior, full-time academic orthopaedic oncologist in the Midsouth, also serves as the director of the Division of Musculoskeletal Oncology, director of the residency program and vice chair for Education and for Research.