In memory of Dr. Steve Schwartz, who created this blog

Professor Stephen M. Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D., the founder and proprietor of The-Ave.US, passed away from COVID-19 on March 17, 2020. Read local press coverage here and here.

Steve joined the University of Washington Medical School’s faculty in 1967 and had taught there since 1974. He was world-famous in the field of pathology. I once asked him if he might someday win a Nobel Prize in Medicine. He shook his head and emphatically said “no.”

I don’t know whether that was because he thought his work wasn’t compelling enough, his field isn’t important enough, or that was his modesty talking. (There’s no way to know who is nominated or considered, because Nobel committees don’t reveal that; I do know he eagerly awaited the announcements of winners.)

But it’s clear he was a towering figure in his field. The Washington Times said Dr. Schwartz, a “pathology professor considered a titan in his field, is among those killed by the novel coronavirus disease. The school’s Pathology Department announced Dr. Stephen Schwartz’s death Wednesday …. It was not immediately clear how or when Schwartz contracted the disease. He was not working with patients and did not contract it at work ….” Read that story here.

Tributes from professional colleagues, peers, and former students are pouring in. You can read some of them here. Mostly serious, many of these remembrances mention his passion for science, but some also possess an affectionately humorous tone because he was, you might say, a bit unusual in some ways; e.g., one referred to his “peculiarities.” Another said, “Those that knew him well, will have several stories to share that I’m sure will bring a smile to everyone.” The popular image of an “eccentric genius” fit him fairly well.

Ironically, less than 3 weeks ago, Steve wrote on this blog that, “Our ability to treat a new virus or a new strain of a virus depends on how lethal the virus is versus how quickly we can become immune. A virus that is very lethal acts rapidly and does not rapidly induce our bodies to produce new antibodies could, as happened with the Spanish Flu in 1918, kill massive numbers of people worldwide. This is why we work so hard every year to find new viruses as early as possible so we can produce vaccines. But, the development of a new vaccine takes a year or more.” (Read his article here.) I can’t imagine he knew then he would become one of Covid-19’s earliest victims.

Outside of medical research, Steve was a political junkie (you may have guessed that from the content of his blog). I met him at a Seattle Drinking Liberally, a gathering of local liberals, politicos, and at least one journalist, Joel Connelly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Steve owned a boat he liked to take up B.C.’s inside passage, and sent emails to his friends describing the sights along the way.

I helped him set up this blog and have been a contributor since its inception. I considered him a dear friend and I’m shocked and profoundly saddened by his loss. My heart is wounded, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues.

Read Gary Kinslow’s tribute to Dr. Schwartz here.

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  1. David (AKA Davey Jones) #

    Steve was a friend of mine, one I wish I had been able to spend more time with, and I miss him. If you search this blog, you’ll find Steve used to publish my e-mails to him here, under the name Davey Jones. Steve and his wife had attended the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally, they stopped a while back, but I would suspect that the next time they meet they’ll say a few words about Steve.

  2. Gary Kinslow #

    [This comment has been moved to an article format. See “A Tribute to Dr. Steve Schwartz” here.]