Herbert Schwartz, professor emeritus and former chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Stanford’s School of Medicine, died on Nov. 13 at the age of 89. Schwartz and his colleagues were instrumental in founding the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in 1991.
Schwartz served as acting chair of the Department of Pediatrics from 1969-70 and then as chair from 1970-71. He helped build the University’s pediatric hematology and oncology teams in the 1960s.
“He was a kind, gentleman scholar,” said Hendrik Vreman, a senior pediatrics research scientist, in the Stanford Medicine News Center. “He liked to talk about all things science, and he was able to interest you in things he found interesting.”
Schwartz was a hematologist who specialized in blood disorders. He conducted research on hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein present in blood, and primarily focused on how hemoglobin is synthesized and how variations in hemoglobin in diabetic women affect fetuses during pregnancy. Schwartz also discovered an abnormal form of hemoglobin found in patients with hemolytic anemias.
Schwartz recruited Bert Glader, a professor of pediatric hematology-oncology, to Stanford in 1977. While Schwartz taught Glader a great deal about hematology, Glader said that his most significant lessons were about the necessity of human contact in patient care.
“My most important memory of Herb is his advice for helping patients feel comfortable in a busy hospital environment,” Glader told the Stanford Medicine News Center. “He said, ‘Touch your patient everyday.’ As hospital medicine becomes increasingly technology-focused, I think his wisdom about the value of human contact is more important than ever.”
Schwartz was born in 1926 in New Haven, Connecticut and served in the navy during World War II before attending college and medical school. He came to Stanford as a medical resident in 1954 before returning as a faculty member in 1960. He, his wife Carolyn Jex and their three children lived in Palo Alto for 47 years.
He was known for preferring plaid shirts over white coats and playing tennis with a group of faculty on Wednesday afternoons. After retiring in 1991, Schwartz and his wife took cruises all over the world.
Schwartz is survived by his three children, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Contact Alexandra Nguyen-Phuc at nguyenphuc ‘at’ stanford.edu.