Michael W. Schuster, a hematologic cancer expert known for spearheading the development of two of New York’s largest bone marrow and stem cell transplantation programs, has been named Director of Bone Marrow and Blood Stem Transplantation at Stony Brook University Medical Center. Appointed by SBUMC CEO Steven L. Strongwater, Schuster will lead the institution in expanding treatment and bone marrow/stem cell transplantation options for patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and other hematologic malignancies.
Schuster, also Professor of Medicine and Director of Hematologic Malignancies, comes to SBUMC from New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College, where he was Director of Bone Marrow and Blood Stem Cell Transplantation, having started the program there more than 12 years ago. Prior to that, he founded the adult stem cell transplant program at North Shore University Hospital in Nassau County.
“We are thrilled that Dr. Schuster has joined Stony Brook, bringing his expertise and vision, to set the pace for the development of a world-class Bone Marrow and Blood Stem Cell Transplantation Program at Stony Brook University Medical Center,” said Strongwater. “He has facilitated nearly 2,000 stem cell transplants within the New York region during the past 10 years. Our patients will greatly benefit from his care and a program poised to grow.”
The Bone Marrow and Blood Stem Cell Transplantation Program at SBUMC provides comprehensive transplantation services for patients in need of a transplant to cure their disease. Earlier this year, under Schuster’s leadership, SBUMC received approval from the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) to be an NMDP allogeneic (stem cells from another person) transplant center. Stringent criteria determine whether a medical center is given that approval. NMDP approval allows the center to have access to the largest pool of unrelated stem cell donors in the world. This is needed for patients who do not have a brother or sister who is a match.
Schuster and his team will further expand stem cell transplantation by introducing other types of transplants, including umbilical cord blood transplants and haploidentical transplants—a technique that employs immunologic manipulation to use a family member as a donor who may not otherwise be a suitable match for the patient.
“With new and innovative methods of transplantation, new clinical trials to treat hematologic malignancies, and expansion of our clinical space, we expect to offer this often life-saving service to more of our patients with hematologic cancers,” said Schuster, who has been named to New York Magazine’s Best Doctors list for the past decade, as well as one of The New York Times “Super Docs.” “Another goal is for Stony Brook to increase its activities as a collection center, where we would collect hematopoietic stem cells that can be sent to any matched recipient at a transplant center nationwide.”
Schuster also hopes to establish an umbilical cord blood bank at SBUMC. With more than 4,000 births at SBUMC each year, umbilical cord blood could be banked to provide the life-saving cells for patients who may not have a suitable stem cell donor.
Schuster brings a depth of research expertise to the transplantation program and entire SBU Cancer Center research team, and he is eager to expand research and the testing of new treatments for hematologic malignancies.
During the past 20 years, he has been principal investigator for more than 150 clinical trials. He has also been involved in clinical trials that have led to the registration of breakthrough oncology drugs such as Gleevec® and Velcade®. Shuster has investigated extensively in the areas of hematologic malignancies, including multiple myoloma, lymphoma, and leukemia; therapeutic uses of cytokines; bone marrow and stem cell transplantation; oncology new drug development; and the treatment of cachexia, a condition of severe weight loss and muscle wasting that can accompany chronic or terminal conditions.
A graduate of Dartmouth Medical School, Schuster completed his training in hematology/oncology at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular biology at Harvard University. He is board certified in internal medicine and hematology and is a member of numerous professional and scientific societies, including the American Society of Hematology, American College of Physicians, American Society of Clinical Oncology, New York Academy of Sciences, American Society of Bone Marrow and Stem Cell Transplantation, and the Bone Marrow Foundation.
Schuster also serves in a number of national bone marrow/stem cell transplantation leadership positions, including as Medical Director, Gift of Life Bone Marrow Transplant registry, and Advisory Board, The Bone Marrow Foundation.