Gary Schwartz, current chief of the hematology and oncology division at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, will become director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland this spring. Schwartz will succeed Stanton Gerson, who has held the position since 2004.

Gerson assisted in selecting Schwartz to be his successor, according to a news release.

“Dr. Schwartz is an exceptionally accomplished cancer investigator with extensive experience leading clinical research programs at major cancer centers,” Gerson said in the release. “I am thrilled we could attract him to this position.”

Schwartz told the Cleveland Jewish News that he received his undergraduate degree from Haverford College in Pennsylvania and attended medical school at Albany Medical College in New York.

He worked for 23 years at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, then began his career at Columbia. He was initially involved in the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers, and moved onto melanoma and sarcoma about 17 years ago, Schwartz said.

“Cancer is such a terrible disease for so many people,” he said. “It impacts their lives in so many ways and can be so devastating. As a doctor, I feel I can make a big impact on a large number of patients who are in great need of medical care. Cancer is such a major problem for so many people. I felt it would be a great (thing) to become a cancer doctor and help people in need of medical care.”

Schwartz said his parents were also involved in cancer research, which had a big impact on his upbringing and his decision to get involved in the field. He has spent much of his career in New York City.

“I think the move to Cleveland is really the next step in my career, and I’m very excited about the opportunity to become the director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center,” he said. “It’s an amazing place led by a major leader in cancer medicine, Stan Gerson, who is extraordinary. I’m humbled to follow in his footsteps.”

As he embarks on this new endeavor, he looks forward to collaborating with the “amazing” doctors in Cleveland and building up the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center program, he said.

“I think one of the visions is to really align the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospital and the Comprehensive Cancer Center university into a large, integrated program that brings the best in cancer care to the patients of Cleveland,” he said.

Schwartz will make the move from New York to Cleveland with his wife. He said he looks forward to exploring the city’s offerings in regards to entertainment, dining and community.

“I love the symphony, and I’ve actually already been to the symphony on one occasion,” he said. “You have a great philharmonic in Cleveland, you have a great museum in Cleveland. Of course, you have the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, which I have yet to visit, but it’s on my list of things to do. You have nice restaurants in Cleveland.”

He said he is looking for a community that he can be part of and that going from the big city of New York to the smaller city of Cleveland will give him opportunities to meet new people.

Everyone he has spoken to about Cleveland has raved about it, and he is very excited to become part of the Cleveland community, Schwartz said.

“We look forward to welcoming Dr. Schwartz as director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center,” CWRU President Eric Kaler said in the news release. “The combination of his stellar expertise and depth of knowledge will advance the center’s innovative research which, ultimately, will lead to new discoveries that prevent, diagnose and treat cancers.”

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