April 14, 2021

Professor Paul Swerdlow, M.D., dies at 69

Professor of Oncology Paul Swerdlow, M.D., died on April 11. He was 69. 

Paul Swerdlow, M.D.

Dr. Swerdlow was a hematologist-oncologist specializing in the care and understanding of sickle cell disease. He was an active member of the medical staff at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, and several Detroit Medical Center facilities, including Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Detroit Receiving Hospital, Harper Hospital, Hutzel Hospital, Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan and Sinai-Grace Hospital. He cared for patients his entire career, creating the sickle cell program at Medical College of Virginia and reinventing the program at Wayne State when he arrived in 1995. He also served as the team leader for benign hematology, first at Karmanos and later at Detroit Receiving, where he and his team sponsored numerous educational activities for the patients, nursing and medical staff. 

In addition to the sickle cell and benign hematology programs, he was also active on the inpatient malignant hematology service, and on the apheresis service.

He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in Life Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973, then earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1977, and then completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1980.

He also completed a four-year fellowship in MIT’s Department of Biology. Additionally, he was a clinical fellow in Pediatrics at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, a research fellow in Pediatrics at Harvard, and a fellow in Medicine (Hematology-Oncology) at Boston Children’s Hospital, a combined fellowship with Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Dr. Swerdlow served as a professor since 2009, and was interim division chief of Hematology-Oncology from 2003 to 2008. He joined the School of Medicine as an associate professor of Medicine and Pediatrics in 1995, coming to Detroit after several years on faculty at the Medical College of Virginia.

Dr. Swerdlow especially enjoyed training medical students, residents and fellows over his many decades at WSU. He received many well-deserved accolades in his career, including the WSU College Teaching Award in 1998 and 2004, and the “Best Internist” Teaching Award from the Internal-Medicine Pediatrics Residency Program in 2010. He was also a funded researcher who led clinical trials and evaluations for the sickle cell anemia drug hydroxyurea and mentored many doctoral candidates while with Virginia Medical College. He served on the editorial board of more than a dozen academic journals, and was a grant reviewer for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s clinical trials and hematology sections, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s orphan drug program, the National Institutes of Health’s General Clinical Research Center program and many more.

He was active on several committees for NIH, WSU, Karmanos Cancer Institute, and the Detroit Medical Center, including many as chair. 

His wife, Carolyn, shared that no memorial is scheduled at this time. However, friends are encouraged to reach out to the Office of Faculty Affairs at 313-577-9877 or ofapd@wayne.edu to request information when it becomes available.

In the meantime, the family encourages donations to the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America Michigan Chapter or the American Society of Hematology Sickle Cell Disease Initiative Fund in his honor.