Steven J Schwulst

Department of Surgery, Division of Trauma and Critical Care

Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine

Steven J Schwulst
Assistant Professor of Surgery

Dr. Schwulst is an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Department of Surgery at Northwestern University. He received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in Molecular and Cell Biology. He received his M.D. with Honors from the University of Illinois at Chicago where he was a James Scholar. Dr. Schwulst then went on to train in surgery, immunology, and surgical critical care at Washington University in St. Louis / Barnes-Jewish Hospital. During this time, Dr. Schwulst was driven by the desire to combine his passion for science and discovery with a deeply entrenched spirit of altruism. He combined these seemingly disparate pursuits into a career as a surgeon-scientist. Over the years his work as a surgeon-scientist has brought him to the intersection of injury, immunology, and neuroscience as he has been able to unite his clinical interest in caring for patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) with his basic science interest in immunology. Thus far, he has been successful in bridging these distinct, yet synergistic, disciplines through his work in the laboratory, the clinics, and professional societies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Injury Prevention estimate that nearly 2 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year in the United States, contributing to over 30% of all injury related deaths. In fact, TBI related healthcare expenditures near 80 billion dollars annually with an average cost of 4 million dollars per person surviving a severe TBI. The impact of TBI is highlighted not only by its high mortality rate but also by the significant long-term complications suffered by its survivors with the progressive development of motor, cognitive, and behavioral disorders. The immune response to TBI plays a fundamental role the development and progression of subsequent cognitive and neuropsychiatric disease and represents a complex interplay between peripheral innate immunity and the resident immune system of the injured brain—microglia. To date, Dr. Schwulst's research has centered on three facets of the immune response to TBI: 1) the role of macrophage heterogeneity in the direction of TBI-induced immune dysfunction, 2) the role of constitutive microglial activation in the etiology and evolution of chronic neurodegeneration after TBI, and 3) molecular mechanisms behind the development of post-TBI cognitive and neuropsychiatric impairment.

The impact and quality of Dr. Schwulst's research program has been recognized by the NIH through nearly a decade of continuous funding. He has also been recognized by the American College of Surgeons with the C. James Carrico Award, the Association for the Surgery of Trauma with the Faculty Research Award, the Shock Society with the New Investigator Award, and the Central Surgical Society with Jeremiah Turcotte Award.