Schwartz, M.D., appointed to diabetes research chair
James O. Watson Endowed Diabetes
Research Chair supports endocrine and cardiovascular research at
By Richard Heck
and Anita Martin
March 31, 2009
Frank L. Schwartz, M.D., F.A.C.E.,
professor of endocrinology in the
Department of Specialty Medicine, was recently appointed James O.
Watson Endowed Diabetes Research Chair.
position, endowed by the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation, was
created at OU-COM to advance basic and clinical research into rural
health management of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, both
critical health issues in Appalachian Ohio.
coming to OU-COM in 2003, Schwartz has greatly expanded the
diabetes research conducted at the college and university. His work
ranges from research into the treatment potential of newly
discovered compound C-10 for diabetes and other diseases, to various
clinical studies on community health trends and endocrine disease
letter of support for Schwartz’ appointment to the chair, the first
(recently retired) J.O. Watson Chair Leonard Kohn, M.D.,
wrote that Schwartz “has created a true bench-to-bedside research
environment at Ohio University.”
Schwartz’ basic research, in collaboration with other OHIO
scientists, focuses on the role of “toll-like cell receptors” in
autoimmune endocrine diseases. The C-10 compound, according to
abnormal expression of these toll-like receptors and may offer a new
type of treatment for diseases such as type 1 diabetes,
atherosclerosis and certain cancers in the near future.”
Schwartz also promotes basic research through the Diabetes/Endocrine
Diseases Biorepository, which he established at Ohio University. The
biorepository stores blood samples of patients from University
Medical Associates and the Cornwell Diabetes and Endocrine Center at
O’Bleness Hospital. The samples, which include serum, DNA and RNA,
will assist OHIO research into the causes of obesity, diabetes,
atherosclerosis, cancer and other endocrine diseases for the purpose
of exploring better treatment and diagnostic possibilities.
collaboration with the Russ College of Engineering and Technology,
Schwartz is working to improve medical technology for diabetic
patients by co-developing an artificial intelligence software
program for insulin pumps for type 1 diabetes patients. The software
interprets how lifestyle trends impact individual patients’ glucose
levels and offers evidence-based solutions to problems. The
researchers hope the software eventually can make treatment
suggestions and serve all forms of diabetes.
Overall, Schwartz has helped increase the medical community’s
understanding of the Southeastern Ohio population through his
involvement with an ongoing 19-county comprehensive health needs
assessment sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services. The study, conducted in collaboration with the Voinovich
School of Leadership and Public Affairs and the Appalachian Rural
Health Institute (ARHI), has revealed that, in the eleven counties
surveyed so far, more than 11 percent of people in Appalachian Ohio
suffer from diabetes—compared to the national average of eight
better serve this population, Schwartz and Jay Shubrook, D.O.
(’96), assistant professor of family medicine, established the
ARHI Diabetes Coalition, a group of diabetes educators, nurses and
governmental agencies that supports research into cultural and
economic barriers to medical access and education. In coordination
with other OHIO departments, coalition members began an intervention
program to study and address the impact and treatment of depression
in patients with type 2 diabetes. Schwartz and Shubrook are also
conducting a study to evaluate the quality of care provided to
diabetes patients in rural hospitals and nursing homes.
According to Dean Jack Brose, D.O., Schwartz has attracted
more than $2.6 million in external funding to OU-COM over the past
five years. “His accomplishments during his time at Ohio University
have significantly enhanced the reputation of the university and the
College of Osteopathic Medicine,” said Brose, who initially
recommended Schwartz for the position.
and Kohn also lauded Schwartz’s efforts in launching the
Diabetes/Endocrine Center at the Appalachian Rural Health Institute.
The center is now recognized around the state for excellence in
diabetes training, education and research. It offers the only
osteopathic diabetes fellowship for primary care physicians in the
United States. Under Schwartz’s direction, the center received the
2006 Rural Practice of the Year Award from the Ohio Department of
Schwartz’ appointment will expand his current work. “The endowed
chair provides sustained financial support to continue established
research projects and strengthen new grant applications,” Schwartz
said. “Our central focus is to continue the translational research
in diabetes—taking research from the laboratory bench to patient’s
Schwartz cites Kohn’s work as one of the central factors that
originally drew him to OU-COM. “It is a great honor to follow Dr.
Kohn in this prestigious research chair. He and I have worked in
collaboration for the past six years, and I feel like I am carrying
on his legacy with the many other investigators here at OU.”
to coming to OU-COM in 2003, Schwartz worked in Parkersburg, W.Va.,
where he set up five diabetes education programs at local hospitals
and in his own private endocrinology practice. A graduate of the
West Virginia School of Medicine in 1978, he taught for 20 years as
a clinical associate professor of medicine and pharmacology at his
medical alma mater.
several years before he joined the full-time faculty at OU-COM,
Schwartz also served as a preceptor for the college’s students.
During that time OU-COM awarded him two honors based on positive
medical student reviews: a 1996 Master Clinical Faculty Award and a
1998 Outstanding Specialty Physician Award.