Thomas Jefferson University

James S. Schwaber

James S. Schwaber, PhD
James S. Schwaber, PhD

Dr. Schwaber is a Professor of Pathology, Cell Biology and Anatomy at Thomas Jefferson University, where he is the Director of the Daniel Baugh Institute for Functional Genomics and Computational Biology. He received his BA from the University of Illinois, his PhD from the University of Miami in Neuroscience working under Dr. Neil Schneiderman, and postdoctoral training at the University of Virginia under Drs. David Cohen and John Jane.  He spent 20 years in the E.I. DuPont Company where he, sequentially, (1) co-developed in the Neurobiology Group the business plan that was the platform to launch the Cephalon Pharmaceutical Company; (2) participated in the Cardiovascular Sciences group that developed the anti-hypertensive drug losartan; (3) was awarded patents for imaging methods that were licensed to form businesses that perform neuroanatomical mapping and imaging; (4) hosted a conference in 1986 at DuPont to coordinate research among investigators interested in digital brain atlas technology that has come into use in MRI; (5) led an interdisciplinary “Core Genomics” computational biology team with projects in ag-biotech and microbial metabolism, as well as pharma; and (6) hosted a ONR-NSF-DuPont sponsored funding initiative planning workshop “Gene Networks and Cellular Controls” in 1996.  In 2000, Dr. Schwaber joined the faculty of TJU and (1) initiated the computational and genomics focus of the Daniel Baugh Institute; (2) participated in the DARPA Bio-COMP initiative; and (3) received NIH BISTI initiative funding to initiate and develop a cooperative research and training program with the University of Delaware to exploit their complementary strengths in medicine and engineering. 

Dr. Schwaber’s main interest is in the emotional–visceral neuraxis and disorders involving this interaction, including those related to stress and autonomic imbalance in neurogenic contributions to hypertension, addiction and withdrawal from the dependent state, and neurodegenerative conditions including epilepsy.  In recent years he has discovered a significant and long-lasting innate neuroimmune component with major contributions to these disturbances.  As a result, he studies these processes as tissue scale network interactions of epithelial, microglia and astrocyte, as well as neuronal cells.

Over the span of time, Dr. Schwaber has gained and used neurophysiological, neuroanatomical and neural network modeling approaches, including integration of these data into physiological models of cardiorespiratory regulation and of the respiratory rhythm and pattern generator.  Currently, he brings a systems biology perspective to all projects, including high-throughput data acquisition, genomics measures around transcriptional regulation including signaling protein networks, gene expression, miRNA, ChIP using next gen sequencing and other high throughput instrumentation, and computational analyses and gene regulatory network modeling/simulation. Recently he has evolved technologies to enable single cell analysis, and by taking these measures across large numbers of neurons, he has developed new perspectives on the sources and meaning of variability or heterogeneity in neuronal populations-phenotypes. 

Dr. Schwaber believes the evidence supports the view that cell phenotype arises from the combinatorial input history of the cell and is present as a "state-memory" in the transcriptome defined as RNA and regulatory proteins. In the case of central neuronal populations he has interpreted the data in a way that leads to a novel view of "the neural code", replacing spike rate coding with pattern coding by the population.