JAMES H. SCHWARTZ, M.D., PH.D., one of the founders of Columbia University’s Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, died March 13, 2006. Dr. Schwartz, who was one of the pioneers of modern neuroscience, was professor of physiology & cellular biophysics, psychiatry, and neurology (in the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior). He joined the faculty of P&S in 1974.
With Alden Spencer, M.D., and Eric Kandel, M.D., University Professor of Physiology & Cellular Biophysics, Psychiatry, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics and Nobel laureate for physiology or medicine in 2000, Dr. Schwartz founded the first Center for Neurobiology and Behavior in the country that integrated cellular, molecular and biophysical approaches in the study of behavior. Their collaboration was instrumental in defining the modern field of neuroscience. Formed first at NYU in the late 1960s, this group moved to Columbia in 1974.
Beginning in the early 1970s, Dr. Schwartz pioneered the investigation of the molecular mechanisms that contribute to learning and memory. He remained a leader in this field for more than three decades with his studies characterizing the second-messenger cascades and changes in gene expression that mediate various forms of synaptic plasticity underlying learning.
In 1979, Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Kandel edited the book, “Principles of Neural Science,” the first textbook that made the study of behavior a central focus in the teaching of neural science to medical students, still in use today. Dr. Schwartz was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1994, in recognition of his role in “advancing science or fostering applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.”