Einstein/Montefiore Department of Medicine

Dr. Victor Schuster Honored for Service as Department Chair

In the field of academic medicine, department chairs provide integral leadership while maintaining a strategic connection between administrative leaders and faculty members. The role demands a skill set far beyond proven success in research and clinical specialty—a successful chair demonstrates integrity, authenticity, and institutional commitment, serving as a team player while articulating a shared vision.

Dr. Victor Schuster Department of Medicine Albert Einstein College of Medicine Montefiore Medical Center Bronx NY
Dr. Schuster (right) with Dr. Marvin Fried.

On October 1, 2014, Dr. Victor Schuster was honored for his twelve-year tenure as Chair of the Department of Medicine at a reception hosted in the Faculty Club and emceed by Dr. Laurie Jacobs, Interim Chair of the Department. Speeches given by Dr. Allen Spiegel, Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean; Dr. Edward Burns, Executive Dean; Dr. Allan Wolkoff, Chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases; Dr. Philip Lief, Professor of Medicine; and Mr. Patrick Haughey, Vice President of Clinical Services at Montefiore, illuminated just how high Dr. Schuster raised the bar during his years in this role. 

 
Dr. Victor Schuster reception Department of Medicine Albert Einstein College of Medicine Montefiore Medical Center Bronx NY

Described repeatedly as a “Renaissance man”, Dr. Schuster was commended for qualities including his exemplary ability to engender consensus in multifaceted groups, provide superb mentorship, foster diversity among faculty and staff, empower women in senior leadership roles, maintain transparency, and recognize faculty and staff through venues such as the weekly Department newsletter. He was also able to maintain a sense of humor and tell good stories.

"In academic medicine, the highest praise is to be called a 'triple threat': a great teacher, researcher and clinician. Vic Schuster epitomizes what it means to be a triple threat, and does so with grace and wit," said Dr. Spiegel.

"Vic Schuster has been the quintessential and ideal Chair of a Department of Medicine. He successfully combined and synthesized the qualities of a scientist, educator, mentor and clinical innovator into leadership model that has been nationally recognized. Even more important is the fact that he accomplished this with humanity, urbanity, respect and compassion," said Dr. Burns.

Dr. Schuster rose to leadership early in his career. He completed an internal medicine residency at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he was chief resident, and a nephrology fellowship at Southwestern Medical School, Dallas. After five years on faculty at the University of Iowa, he moved to Einstein in 1988, where he became Chief of the Division of Nephrology in 1993 and Chief of the unified Einstein/Montefiore Division of Nephrology in 1998. He was Vice Chairman for Research in the Department of Medicine from 2000 to 2002, and Chair of the Department of Medicine from 2002 to 2014. On August 1, 2014, he assumed the newly created role of Senior Vice Dean at Einstein, in which he is mentoring physician-scientists, assisting the Dean's office in Institutional Advancement activities, and continuing his laboratory-based research and teaching activities in nephrology.

 
Dr. Victor Schuster Department of Medicine Albert Einstein College of Medicine Montefiore Medical Center Bronx NY
Dr. Schuster with Drs. Amanda Raff and Thiruvinvamalai Dharmarajan.

Dr. Schuster's research has focused for 35+ years on the interactions between vasoactive hormones and epithelial transport. His laboratory was the first to show that angiotensin II directly modulates fluid reabsorption by the proximal tubule. In 1995, the Schuster Laboratory discovered the prostaglandin (PG) transporter "PGT", a finding he has extended to human and mouse genetics, zebrafish, and drug discovery.

"Vic has been a leader with profound knowledge; proficient in many areas. As Chairman, he was committed to diversity, openness, tolerance of disagreement, and a critical need to make data-driven decisions," said Dr. Lief.

"Now that Vic is done with his Chair duties, he has returned as my neighbor and I see him daily, often chatting and taking advantage of his great store of knowledge about many things. It's a pleasure to have him back!" Dr. Wolkoff said.

"Vic is an exceptional scientist, a great teacher, and always a gentleman. During any discussion I had with him, I learned something new," said Mr. Haughey.

"When I was a renal fellow at UT Southwestern, I heard a West Texas saying that has stayed with me: 'If you see a turtle on top of a fence post, you know it didn’t get there without a lot of help.'," said Dr. Schuster. "My years as chair have been extremely rewarding, not least because I’ve had a lot of help from many amazing people."

Dr. Schuster credited Dr. Jacobs, a proven leader who has served as Chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Vice Chair of Clinical and Educational Programs, for her strong beginning in the role of Interim Chair. "Having the Department in Laurie’s very capable hands going forward allows me to sleep well now," he said.

Dr. Schuster also recognized Grisel Vasguez, administrator for his entire tenure leading the Department, who organized the reception. "Grisel is probably the real Chair of Medicine,” he said. “We have argued, laughed together, cried together, and I can honestly say that my years spent working with her were a true gift." 

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