Skip to content ↓

MIT community mourns loss of Professor David Schauer, 48

David B. Schauer
David B. Schauer

David Schauer, a professor of biological engineering and comparative medicine at MIT, died Sunday, June 7, two weeks after suddenly falling ill. He was 48.

Schauer was known for his warmth and easygoing nature, as well as the intellectual rigor of his research, said James Fox, director of MIT's Division of Comparative Medicine, who helped recruit Schauer to MIT 16 years ago.

"When people had the opportunity to meet him, they immediately liked him and felt comfortable with him," said Fox. "His students loved him for his openness and for his ability to sit down with them and help them with their projects or talk about life in general."

Schauer researched the development of bacterial diseases, with a particular focus on understanding how bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract leads to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, hepatitis and cancer.

He often played intramural sports with his students and enjoyed outdoor activities such as skiing and biking. He was also very active in his temple, Temple Emanuel in Newton, Mass., where he lived with his family.

Born in Queens, N.Y., Schauer grew up in Raleigh, N.C. He earned a bachelor's degree in zoology from the University of North Carolina in 1983, a doctorate in veterinary medicine from North Carolina State University in 1987, and a PhD from Stanford in microbiology and immunology in 1993.

He joined the MIT faculty in 1993 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 1999 and full professor in 2005.

"David's passing is a tremendous loss to us, in every dimension. We will miss him immensely," said Douglas Lauffenburger, head of the Department of Biological Engineering.

Students consistently gave him high marks for his teaching, and among his colleagues, Schauer was widely respected for his clear and calm approach to problem solving, both in and out of the lab.

"He was a brilliant scientist, an absolutely wonderful experimentalist," said Peter Dedon, professor of biological engineering. "He made major contributions to education at MIT, as part of the curriculum committee, to teaching, and to science."

Schauer is survived by his wife, Carol; two sons, Nathan, 20, and Sam, 17; his mother, Francine; and two brothers, James and Andrew.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, June 10, at Temple Emanuel, 385 Ward St., Newton, Mass.

Donations in Schauer's memory may be made to Young Judea (, American Jewish World Service ( or Heifer International (

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 10, 2009 (download PDF).

Related Links

Related Topics

More MIT News