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Biological sciences professor dies at 64

| Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Robert A. Schulz, a professor of biological sciences at Notre Dame, died Saturday, the University announced in a press release Wednesday. He was 64 years old.

Schulz became a member of the Notre Dame faculty in 2007, the release said. Before joining Notre Dame, he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina in 1976 followed by a doctoral degree in biochemistry from Georgetown University. He spent 22 years working at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“Notre Dame was lucky to recruit Dr. Schulz from the prestigious MD Anderson Cancer Research Center, where he established a strong research program,” Kevin Vaughan, associate professor of biological sciences, said in the release. “Dr. Schulz quickly positioned himself as a leader in biological sciences at Notre Dame, and he improved the visibility of Notre Dame research at the national level through his outreach.”

At Notre Dame, Schulz designed a developmental biology course for undergraduates. He was known as an advocate for graduate student research projects during annual research seminars, Vaughan said.

“He always held his graduate students to a pretty high level of expectation,” David Hyde, a biological sciences professor and Notre Dame’s Kenna Director of the Zebrafish Research Center, said in the release. “He wanted them to be able to generate data that would lead to meaningful research publications that would have a significant impact.”

At the University of Texas, Schulz’s work included research on processes of blood formation and immunity in humans and fruit flies, particularly of the Drosophila genus. His work led to better understandings of congenital heart defects, leukemias and cancer stem cells research. Schulz received a grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2016 to study “the Drosophila immune system’s response to stress.”

“[Schulz] used state-of-the art genetic approaches to answer fundamental questions about how the immune system develops in the fruit fly,” Hyde said. “He was still actively pursuing his research, for which he was well-respected in the Drosophila community worldwide.”

Schulz is also remembered for loving to travel to Rome with his wife.

“They always enjoyed going every year and wanted to see the Pope,” Hyde said. “At one point when they made that trip, he was within a couple of feet of the Pope during a procession at the Vatican — and that was very memorable to him, that he was that close.”

A visitation will be held Friday at Kaniewksi Funeral Homes from 4 to 8 p.m., followed by a funeral Mass at 11 a.m. Saturday in Christ the King Catholic Church.

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