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University of Rochester Neurologist Steven Schwid Dies

Steven R. Schwid, MD, professor of neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and co-director of the Rochester Multiple Sclerosis Center, died of cancer on Nov. 3. He was 44.

His department chair, Robert C. Griggs, MD, professor of neurology, medicine, pediatrics, and pathology and laboratory medicine at URMC and president-elect of the AAN, praised his accomplishments and called him “incredibly hard-working, effective, and determined.”

Dr. Schwid, who received his medical degree in 1990 from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, spent most of his professional life at the URMC, where he served his residency (1991–1994) and subsequently a fellowship in neuroimmunology and experimental therapeutics of neurological disorders (1994–1996).

For the past five years Dr. Schwid was associate chair for clinical research in the department of neurology at URMC. Since 2000 he was the co-director of the Rochester Multiple Sclerosis Center and associate director of the Clinical Trials Coordination Center, overseeing projects and long-range planning.

Dr. Schwid's research involved the pathophysiology and measurement of cognitive impairment, motor dysfunction, and fatigue in multiple sclerosis (MS) and other CNS disorders. Dr. Schwid was also renowned for emphasizing the need for rigorously controlled clinical trials for novel MS treatments. He led trials on rituximab in primary progressive MS, fingolimod for relapsing-remitting MS, cholinesterase inhibition for cognitive impairment from MS, and atorvastatin for patients with clinically isolated syndromes suggestive of MS.

He was also an extremely generous individual, Dr. Griggs said. “He gave unstintingly of his time to his patients, his students, his colleagues, and to anyone who asked for his help.” Even after Dr. Schwid was diagnosed with cancer, he remained steadfast and attentive to his patients, continually giving to others throughout his illness.

Dr. Schwid was a founding member of the Multiple Sclerosis Cooperative Research Group in 2003 and belonged to many other professional medical societies, including the AAN, the American Neurological Association, the Movement Disorders Society, and the American Society for Experimental Neurotherapeutics.

Dr. Schwid was an associate editor of Neurology from 2001–2006, working with then editor-in-chief Dr. Griggs. He played a strong role in shaping the journal's content, Dr. Griggs noted. He was known for his prolific writing (authoring at least 12 editorials) and “skill at capturing the essence of an article or editorial with a succinct and pithy, whimsical, or controversial title,” said Dr. Griggs.

Dr. Schwid was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Upstate New York Chapter, in 2004.

He is survived by wife, Mary; five children; and a brother and a sister. Donations can be made to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Upstate New York Chapter, 1650 South Ave., Suite 100, Rochester, NY 14620.


DR. STEVEN R. SCHWID (1964–2008)