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February 18, 1998

Samuel Schwartz, MD

Author Affiliations

Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1998;279(7):560. doi:10.1001/jama.279.7.560

Samuel Schwartz, MD, a renowned expert on heme and bile pigments, died of complications of lymphoma in Minneapolis, Minn, on December 5, 1997.

Dr Schwartz

The son of Russian immigrants, Dr Schwartz was born and raised in Minneapolis. He attended the University of Minnesota undergraduate and medical school, where he later became professor of internal medicine.

Dr Schwartz is perhaps best known for his work on porphyrin metabolism. While an undergraduate, working in the laboratory of Dr Cecil Watson, he developed the test for acute intermittent porphyria, later known as the Watson-Schwartz test. During World War II Dr Schwartz was part of the Manhattan Project, where he directed a team of 25 investigators studying the effects of radiation on metalloporphyrins. He did work on photophoresis and on lead poisoning in humans and in birds. Dr Schwartz also developed the HemoQuant test, which quantifies the amount of occult blood in stool, leading to the earlier detection of colorectal carcinoma.

During his career, Dr Schwartz was a recognized world expert on porphyrin and heme metabolism. He published numerous scientific papers and was the recipient of a US Public Health Service research career award. He was a visiting professor at the Carlsberg laboratory in Copenhagen and at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden from 1946 to 1948, and at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem from 1961 to 1962. He was a member of the American Society of Biology and Chemistry, American Society of Clinical Investigation, American Association of Cancer Research, and the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine.

Dr Schwartz was a tireless individual and in addition to his scientific work, he was active in numerous community and conservation groups. He was an accomplished singer and enjoyed playing the harmonica and writing poetry. Perhaps something that sums up Dr Schwartz's work and his sense of humor is a poem he wrote for a paper on the color of eggs as models of porphyrin metabolism:

Ode to Red, White, and Blue Eggs
There are many breeds of
multicolored hens,
They lays eggs of every hue.
Their uteri filled with pyrrolic pens
Paint the shells red, white, and blue.
So ask not "what came first,
the chick'n or egg?"
Nor "what can either do for you?"
Seeks life's mystery of porph'rin
and bile pigment,
It is bound up in the
red, white, and blue!

Dr Schwartz is survived by his wife, Goldie, 9 children, 4 foster children, 20 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.