Robert Schwarcz

Robert Schwarcz

Dr. Robert Schwarcz is Professor of Psychiatry, Pharmacology and Pediatrics, Director of the NIMH Conte Center for Translational Research, and Head of Neuroscience, Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. After receiving his PhD degree in Biochemistry from the University of Vienna, Austria, he showed in the 1970s, under the mentorship of Dr. Coyle, that an intrastriatal injection of the excitatory amino acid kainate provides an animal model for Huntington's disease. This led to the idea that excitotoxic processes, triggered by an overstimulation of excitatory amino acid receptors, are causally involved in the pathophysiology of several major neurological diseases. As an offshoot of the excitotoxic hypothesis, Dr. Schwarcz developed the concept and demonstrated that antagonists of excitatory amino acid ("glutamate") receptors prevent or arrest neurodegeneration and hold promise as novel therapeutic agents for major brain diseases. This eventually led to the establishment of anti-excitotoxin-based drug discovery programs in a large number of pharmaceutical houses throughout the world. More recently, most of Dr. Schwarcz’ work has been concerned with the neurobiology of quinolinate (QUIN) and kynurenate (KYNA), two metabolically related brain constituents with neuroexcitatory (and excitotoxic) and neuroinhibitory (and neuroprotective) properties, respectively. Both QUIN and KYNA are products of the kynurenine pathway of tryptophan degradation. Using a combination of biochemical, histological, behavioral and electrophysiological techniques, he elaborated many of the characteristics and control mechanisms which govern the function of QUIN and KYNA in the brain. Ongoing in vivo and in vitro studies are designed 1) to identify possible abnormalities in kynurenine pathway metabolism in Huntington’s disease, schizophrenia and depression, and in relevant animal models; 2) to further define the neurobiology of QUIN and KYNA by manipulating the kynurenine pathway pharmacologically and genetically; and 3) to develop and use novel kynurenergic drugs in order to normalize functional impairments in the central nervous system. . Dr. Schwarcz has published over 300 peer-reviewed manuscripts and received several major national and international awards and honors, including election as Foreign Professor of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm in 2009.

Affiliations and Expertise

Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA


Editor: Robert Schwarcz Release Date: 07 Jun 2016
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