Carnegie Mellon University
June 19, 2020

Schwartz Named Head of CMU's Computational Biology Department

By Byron Spice

& Virginia Alvino Young

Russell Schwartz in LibraryPITTSBURGH— Martial Hebert, dean of Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science, has named Russell Schwartz the new head of the Computational Biology Department, effective July 1. 

Schwartz, a professor in both the Computational Biology Department (CBD) and the Department of Biological Sciences, will succeed Robert F. Murphy, who founded CBD and is stepping down after 13 years as its leader. 

"Russell has a stellar record as an educator and researcher, with balanced expertise in both computer science and biology," Hebert said. "I am sure that he will build on the foundation laid by Bob Murphy to bring the Computational Biology Department into its next phase." 

Schwartz, who joined the CMU faculty in 2002 and also has appointments in both the Computer Science and the Machine Learning Departments, works broadly on models and simulations of biological systems, including work in computational genomics, phylogenetics, population genetics and biophysics. 

In recent years, his lab has largely focused on computational cancer biology, especially the development of computational methods to understand how populations of cells that make up a tumor evolve as the cancer develops. Such work is important for better predicting which cancers or precancerous lesions are likely to be aggressive and how they might respond to potential treatments. 

Schwartz previously co-directed CBD’s Ph.D. program, offered jointly with the University of Pittsburgh. He currently serves as a co-director of the joint University of Pittsburgh-CMU Medical Scientist Training Program and as vice chair of Carnegie Mellon’s University Education Council. 

"The future of science will unite the foundational sciences with computer and data sciences to address the most critical issues facing society," said Rebecca W. Doerge, Glen de Vries Dean of the Mellon College of Science. "Russell’s dedication to interdisciplinary work in his lab and in our classrooms make him an excellent choice for moving computational biology forward at Carnegie Mellon." 

As part of the School of Computer Science, CBD develops and uses cutting-edge computational approaches to drive scientific research, enabling discoveries that could not be made with traditional means. In addition to Ph.D. and master's programs, the department offers an undergraduate major in computational biology, as well as a new master's program in automated science. 

"As Bob Murphy steps down as head of the Computational Biology Department after 13 years, we salute his leadership in implementing his vision of a world-class department with a unique array of breakthrough research and educational programs," Hebert said.