ST. LOUIS --Friedrich Schuening, M.D., has been named director of the division of hematology and oncology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
|Friedrich Schuening, M.D.|
"We were very pleased to be able to attract Dr. Schuening to Saint Louis University because of his international reputation as an expert in hematologic malignancies and his experience in successfully building bone marrow transplant programs at two other institutions, most recently at Vanderbilt University," said Adrian Di Bisceglie, M.D., chair of the department of internal medicine at Saint Louis University and holder of the Bander Chair in Internal Medicine.
As director of hematology and oncology, Schuening will lead the existing faculty and recruit additional faculty to SLU to grow a variety of cancer treatment and research programs
"Dr. Schuening has a clear vision and plan for taking the entire division of hematology and oncology to a new level. As director of the Cancer Center, I look forward to working with a member of our faculty with his level of experience and perspective. I feel his arrival will be a game changer for our cancer program," said Mark Varvares, M.D., director of the Saint Louis University Cancer Center and the Donald and Marlene Jerome Endowed Chair in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
That challenge, according to Schuening, attracted him to SLU.
"I chose to come to Saint Louis University for the opportunity to grow the division and further develop the bone marrow transplant program. My immediate goals include recruiting a significant number of faculty, adding programs to offer more comprehensive service, and developing multidisciplinary cancer clinics," Schuening said.
Schuening also plans to establish an outpatient bone marrow transplant facility.
"A great deal of transplant treatment can be done on an outpatient base, which is more cost effective and allows us to do more with the same number of patient beds. Most importantly, patients prefer to stay in the comforts of their home."
Schuening received his M.S. in theology from the University of Mainz in Germany and his M.D. from the University of Hamburg, Germany. He recalls turning on the news after a long shift as a resident and learning about the first bone marrow transplant in Germany. Fascinated by the procedure, he switched career paths and ultimately went to Seattle, where the method was developed, for in-depth training.
During his more than 30-year career, Schuening has conducted extensive research on bone marrow transplant, gene therapy and, more recently, regenerative medicine. He has served as principal investigator of several large preclinical and clinical studies and has authored numerous scholarly articles.
Like bone marrow transplant, which drastically improved the prognosis for patients with diseases such as leukemia, aplastic anemia and lymphoma, Schuening says regenerative medicine holds great potential for treating genetic diseases, as well as organ dysfunctions like spinal cord injuries or heart failure.
"Regenerative medicine is an exciting and important area of study. It offers the opportunity to treat diseases that we could not treat until now. Using our expertise in transferring genes with retroviral vectors, we are able to reprogram skin cells to pluripotent stem cells, which then can be differentiated into the cells of interest: neural cells, blood or muscle cells. This is something that even a few years ago one would not have thought possible," Schuening said.
At Vanderbilt, Schuening worked with neurologists who were interested in treating spinal cord injuries with regenerative medicine. He also worked with cardiologists to study how bone marrow cells could be used to repair damaged heart muscle. Schuening hopes to continue his multidisciplinary research at SLU.
Prior to Vanderbilt, Schuening was a professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he also built a thriving bone marrow program.
Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, infectious disease, liver disease, aging and brain disease and heart/lung disease.