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Faculty Profile

Geert W. Schmid-Schönbein

Professor, Bioengineering


Molecular and cellular biomechanics, mechanotransduction and microcirculation. Development of the Autodigestion Theory.  Design of new tools for prevention and treatment of sepsis with multiorgan failure, metabolic syndrome and autism.

Professor Schmid-Schoenbein directs the UCSD Microcirculation Laboratory – Center for Autodigestion Research.  His team studies a mechanism for disease and death due to digestive enzymes, which they designated as “autodigestion".  The team designs new instrumentation to detect digestive enzymes, monitors their transport and activity,  and develops new approaches to reduce their destructive actions.  

Capsule Bio:

Schmid-Schoenbein was born in 1948 in Baden Wurttemberg, Germany, became a U.S. citizen, and received a Ph.D. in bioengineering from UCSD in 1976. After a post-doctoral fellowship at Columbia University, Schmid-Schoenbein returned to UCSD in 1979 as an assistant professor. He developed and confirmed a detailed engineering analysis to understand blood flow in the microcirculation.  His research uncovered the mechanotransduction response of white blood cells under fluid shear stress.  He discovered the second valve system in lymphatics that is required for lymph fluid from the tissue.  Later, he concluded that the survival of an acutely ill patient can hinge on the degree to which white blood cells are activated.  His group discovered a mechanism that leads to cell and organ failure, which is due to digestive enzymes and may cause disease and death. Among his many distinctions, Schmid-Schönbein is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Heart Association. He is a founding fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and winner of the Melville Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, the Poiseuille Gold Medal by the International Society for Biorheology, and Eugene M. Landis Award by The Microcirculatory Society.   

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