Steven Schwid, compassionate physician and researcher, dies

November 06, 2008

Steven R. Schwid, M.D., professor of Neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center who was well known for his compassionate care for his patients and well respected internationally for his multiple sclerosis research, died Monday, Nov. 3, of cancer. He was 44.

“We are all sad about losing a close friend and truly remarkable colleague,” said Robert C. Griggs, M.D., the former chair of the Department of Neurology. “He trained in my department and we took great pride in his splendid accomplishments as a clinical scientist and clinical neurologist. Steve was among the most generous and giving people I’ve ever known. He gave unstintingly of his time to his patients, his students, his colleagues and to anyone who asked for his help. He was unique in his total commitment to continuing to help others despite his own illness.”

Dr. Schwid was associate chair for clinical research in the Department of Neurology, co-director of the Rochester Multiple Sclerosis Center and associate director of the Clinical Trials Coordination Center. He was an expert on multiple sclerosis whose research emphasized the testing of new treatments for the disease in carefully performed clinical trials. He was widely regarded as one of the world’s authorities in the design and planning of such studies. He also was known for his studies of the pathophysiology and measurement of motor dysfunction, fatigue, and cognitive impairment in central nervous system disorders such as multiple sclerosis.

“Steve was a stalwart of our multiple sclerosis program for 14 years as a caring, compassionate physician as well as a clinical researcher of the first order,” said Andrew Goodman, M.D., director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center and chief of the neuroimmunology unit in the Department of Neurology. “He was an exceptional man with a quick, dry wit, even temper, and analytical mind. Dr. Schwid was an exemplary clinician, teacher, and scholar who will be greatly missed by his many patients, students, staff, and colleagues here at the Medical Center. His death is a painful blow to the entire multiple sclerosis community locally and nationally.”

Dr. Schwid was named a fellow in the American Academy of Neurology in 2005. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Upstate New York Chapter in 2004.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, he received his medical degree from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in 1990. He was a resident at the University of Rochester Medical Center from 1991 to 1994. He was a fellow in neuorimmunology and experimental therapeutics of neurological disorders at the Medical Center from 1994 to 1996.

Dr. Schwid is survived by his wife of 21 years, Mary Schwid; five children, Benjamin, Madeline, Jacob, Abraham and Zachary; a sister, Peggi Glaser; a brother, Howard Schwid; and many nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Multiple Sclerosis Society Upstate New York Chapter in his memory.

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