The Annual Chica and Heinz Schaller Research Award
The Chica and Heinz Schaller Research Award is an annual prize given to a promising young scientist for achievements in the biomedical sciences. The applicant should have a proven track record documenting independent research performed at the University or associated research institutions in Heidelberg.
Dr. Schwarz is heading the Emmy Noether research group Translational Bioinformatics in Psychiatry at the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim. He holds a PhD in Biotechnology from the University of Cambridge, UK, and a BSc in Molecular Biotechnology from the Technical University of Munich, Germany. Dr. Schwarz’s research is focused on three primary focus areas. The first is concerned with the development of computational tools for the identification of biological illness hallmarks in high-dimensional biological datasets. These particularly include machine learning and network-based approaches that integrate systems-biological information, in order to improve their applicability to genetic, epigenetic, transcriptomic and other data. A technological focus area is to make these tool useful for federated computational applications, where data is stored in geographically distributed databases. The second major focus area is the mechanistic modeling and dissection of heterogeneity in mental illness. This work integrates data from different levels of biological organization, e.g. genetic, transcriptomic and neuroimaging data, in order to identify illness-relevant biological processes and characterize their functional relevance for mental disorders. It further includes the dissection of biological heterogeneity within and across mental, as well as somatic illness. This work aims to identify biological dimensions that capture disease-relevant biological processes that may not align well with current diagnostic delineations and that may lead to a future refinement of the diagnostic system. The third major focus area is translational research and the discovery of biomarkers that have potential utility as novel clinical tools for diagnosis and prediction. Beyond diagnostic biomarkers in mental illness, Dr. Schwarz is particularly interested in frequent somatic comorbidities, including Type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease, as well as the ability to predict response to existing, as well as novel interventions.