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Ivan R. Schwab

Ivan R. Schwab (‘69 AB, ‘73 MD)

Dr. Ivan R. Schwab graduated summa cum laude from WVU in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in biology from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. He received a medical degree from WVU in 1973.

Completing his residency at Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and following several fellowships in Ophthalmology, Dr. Schwab returned to WVU as a faculty member in the WVU School of Medicine (1982-89) and served as Acting Chair of the Ophthalmology Department, Medical Director of the Eye Bank of West Virginia. In addition, he was elected Chief of Staff at Ruby Memorial Hospital. He has chaired several national professional working groups and professional committees, including the American Academy of Ophthalmology of which he has been an Associate Examiner since 1985 and which most recently has become a board member. He served as member of the renowned eye research team and faculty at the University of California at Davis Medical School. He has published numerous chapters and journal articles in some of the world’s leading medical journals as well as having written three books.

Accomplishing licensures from California, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Dr. Schwab is a pioneer with a vision that may help millions who have lost their sight. His groundbreaking efforts in using laboratory-grown, eye tissue to restore eyesight has received national and international recognition.

Stem cells from a healthy eye are removed and placed on an amniotic membrane. The membrane is obtained from a donor mother after the baby is born. The combination forms a corneal stem cell and grows into a layer much like the outer surface of the cornea. The damaged part is removed and the moist tissue is sewn onto the eye. Dr. Schwab’s efforts in the process resulted in success for the technique for the very first time.

Schwab’s research may one day lead to using bio-engineered tissue to restore the linings of lungs, bladder and intestines. This will give people dealing with devastating and often fatal diseases hope for a better prognosis.