Renowned cell biologist and academic Sandra Schmid is universally recognized for her groundbreaking research on endocytosis, a fundamental cellular process that plays an essential role in nutrient and antigen processing. A pioneer in her field, she recently discovered isoform-specific functions of dynamin that are activated in cancer cells. Throughout her academic career, Schmid has authored over 105 publications on cell biology. Currently, Schmid holds the Cecil H. Green Distinguished Chair in Cellular and Molecular Biology and is Professor and Chair of the Department of Cell Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Her research and leadership contributions have been recognized through numerous awards, including the Sir Bernard Katz Award from the Biophysics Society, the William C. Rose Award from the ASBMB, and an honorary Doctorate from the University of Stockholm. In 2020, she was also elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
Schmid’s decision to focus on cell biology led her to the campus of Stanford University in 1980. With a Bachelor of Science in cell biology, Schmid was impressed with the reputation of the Stanford biochemistry department, then led by Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg. Her doctoral advisor, biochemist James Rothman, provided valuable guidance. Schmid said, “He taught me to think big and to squeeze every ounce of information out of every experiment, use it to formulate a hypothesis, and to guide the next experiment.” In Schmid’s early articles at Stanford, she collaborated with Rothman and colleagues on projects that established the foundation of her future pioneering work. The efforts paid off, as Schmid received a Doctor of Philosophy in biochemistry in 1985.
Schmid's excellence in the world of cell biology has not gone unnoticed by her alma mater. In 2019, more than three decades since she graduated, University leaders announced that Stanford was giving Schmid the Stanford Medicine Alumni Association’s prestigious Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg Lifetime Achievement Award in Biomedical Sciences. Established in 2010, the award recognizes trailblazers like Schmid who have made numerous contributions in the medical and life sciences space. “I could not be more honored," said Schmid, "to be associated, in even this small way, with the legacy of Arthur Kornberg and Paul Berg: the epitome of walking-the-talk scientists and leaders."