Schmid new leader of Cell Biology

By Debbie Bolles

Dr. Sandra Schmid, an internationally acclaimed cell biologist, has been named Chairman of Cell Biology.

Dr. Sandra Schmid
Dr. Sandra Schmid

Dr. Schmid succeeds the late Dr. Richard Anderson, who served as the department Chairman from 1999 until his death in March 2011. Dr. Schmid was recruited to UT Southwestern from The Scripps Research Institute, where she has served as cell biology department chair since 2000. She was a Scripps professor for 23 years.

Dr. J. Gregory Fitz, Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost and Dean of UT Southwestern Medical School, said Dr. Schmid was selected for the position after a national search because of her outstanding accomplishments in both science and academic leadership.

“She will bring these talents to UT Southwestern at an important juncture, given that advanced cell biology techniques are essential to all of our basic and translational research and educational activities in the graduate and medical schools,” Dr. Fitz said.

Dr. Schmid recently earned a master’s degree in executive leadership from the University of San Diego School of Business Administration in addition to her doctorate in biochemistry from Stanford University. A Canadian by birth, she earned her undergraduate degree in cell biology from the University of British Columbia. After earning her doctorate, Dr. Schmid completed a fellowship in cell biology at Yale University. She then joined Scripps, along with her husband, Dr. Bill Balch.

Dr. Schmid’s research has been published in more than 100 scientific publications. She is the immediate past president of the American Society for Cell Biology and has served on scientific advisory boards, including one at Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Her honors include a National Institutes of Health Merit Award, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s William C. Rose Award, and election to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Schmid’s research relates to endocytosis, which is the process by which cells internalize nutrients, as well as signaling molecules and plasma membrane proteins. Her research uses sophisticated techniques to visualize membrane trafficking and analyze the structure and function of this cellular machinery.

Dr. Schmid said she was drawn to UT Southwestern after learning about its comprehensive, collaborative scientific culture, which she said offers everything “from soup to nuts.”

“Science is about constantly challenging yourself. I thought I needed a new challenge,” she said. “There’s a tone set here from the top at UT Southwestern, and you can just feel it.”


Dr. Fitz holds the Nadine and Tom Craddick Distinguished Chair in Medical Science, and the Atticus James Gill, M.D., Chair in Medical Science.

Dr. Schmid holds the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Chair in Cellular and Molecular Biology