Sheldon M. Schuster
Sheldon M. Schuster became the second president of Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) on July 15, 2003, succeeding founding president Henry “Hank” Riggs
During Schuster’s tenure as president, KGI has expanded both its academic programs and financial resources. Under his leadership, KGI:
- Cultivated a strong Board of Trustees, composed of 26 leaders in industry, health care, and education, and several advisory boards that assist in keeping KGI curriculum and services current to support the career success of KGI students and graduates.
- Completed its first comprehensive fundraising campaign, begun in 2005, which included a $20 million matching grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation, and met the $30 million goal a year early in 2010.
- Enrolled its first students in the PhD in Applied Life Sciences program in fall 2006.
- Welcomed the first cohort in the Postdoctoral Professional Master’s in Bioscience Management (PPM) degree program in fall 2009.
- Matriculated the inaugural class in the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Certificate (PPC) program in fall 2010.
- Partnered with the Minerva Project to create the Minerva Schools at KGI in 2013 and enroll its first class in 2014.
- Introduced the School of Pharmacy, which enrolled its first students in fall 2014.
- Collaborated with Biocon Ltd., India’s leading biotechnology company, to create the Biocon Academy, a Bangalore-based program taught remotely by KGI faculty, leading to the Biocon KGI Certificate in Biosciences in 2014.
- Enrolled its first students in the Master of Engineering (MEng) program in fall 2016.
- Made plans to launch the Master of Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling program in fall 2018, with support of a $1.5 million gift from Amgen.
- Increased enrollment from 45 students in 2003 to over 600 students in KGI’s residential programs by fall 2017.
- Increased its number of alumni from 56 in July 2003 to more than 1,000 as of fall 2017.
- Increased the KGI footprint, purchasing an office building, land for future expansion—setting plans in motion for a 400-bed student housing structure—and rental of office space contiguous to campus.
- Oversaw the creation of three 5-year strategic plans to guide growth through the 25th anniversary in 2022.
Schuster’s research focused on finding new targets for synthesizing mechanism-based inhibitors of disease-related enzymes by studying the relationship between the structure and function of ATP synthase and asparagine synthetase. Schuster also examined the role of mycoplasmal infections in the progression of malignant tumors. His research has been published in the journal Biochemistry. He also has written commentaries that appeared in the journal Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education.
Honors and Service
Schuster has been active in professional organizations such as the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and the Council for Biotechnology Centers. He currently is a features editor of the journal Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education and a member of its editorial board.
In 2007, the American Association for the Advancement of Science elected Schuster as an AAAS Fellow, an honor given by members to their peers who have made significant contributions in areas such as research, teaching, and technology.
After completing his doctorate, Schuster joined the Institute for Enzyme Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1976, he became an assistant professor of chemistry and life sciences at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, where he subsequently rose to the rank of professor of chemistry and biological sciences. In 1989, Schuster moved to the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he became a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, interim assistant vice president for research and graduate education, and director of the Biotechnology Program before relocating to Southern California to assume the presidency of KGI.
During his time in Nebraska, Schuster co-founded the state’s first biotechnology company, BioNebraska (later known as Restoragen, Inc.), which made monoclonal antibodies to bind molecular mercury and developed a potential therapy for congestive heart failure.
Schuster enrolled as an undergraduate at the University of California, Davis in fall 1965. He began as a philosophy major but switched to biochemistry when he developed an interest in science while working in the lab of Professor Lawrence Rappaport in the Department of Plant Sciences. He graduated with a BS in biochemistry in 1970 and went on to earn a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Arizona in 1974.
Schuster was born in San Mateo, Calif. He is the son of the late Eunice (Gold) Schuster and the late Irving Schuster, both originally from Chicago, Illinois.