Sandra L. Schneider, DrPH, EMBA, FCT
2018 SIVB Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient


Dr. Sandra Schneider accepts the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award



JUNE 3, 2018

It is an honor to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award.  Although it is quite humbling to be counted with the many emeritus in vitro biology pioneers who received this honor.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was established by Dr Elliott Levine in 1989, as a venue to recognize scientists that achieved academic excellence in their field of study; and made significant contributions to the field of in vitro biology.  The premise of this award was to bring emeritus and pioneering scientist to the Society, while at the same time providing a joint World Congress with the Japanese TC Associations, and serve as a fund raiser to support the World Congress meetings.  Over the years, the Lifetime award presentation evolved from formal dinners to the present day award ceremony format.

Many of the in vitro pioneers recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award were regular Tissue Culture Association (TCA)/SIVB meeting attendees, that not only influenced my scientific career, but generously assisted me, in either developing novel cell lines and therapeutic products, or shaping my understanding of in vitro biology:  to include Richard Ham, Leonard Hayflick, Joseph Leighton, Karl Maramorosch, June Bradlaw, Ian Freshney, Gordon Sato.  Early in my career, meeting Wally McKeehan at the Lake Placid Tissue Culture Center, lead to my becoming an In Vitro Animal Journal reviewing editor, and then Associate Editor.

Dr. Walter Nelson-Rees for many years provided technical assistance and testing of my cells for authentication, which was critical in the era of HeLa cell contamination.  Drs. David Barnes and Denry Sato were instrumental in my development of several cell lines by providing their experimental serum-free mediums.  Dr. Gertrude Case Buehring became a long-time colleague and resource for development of breast cancer cell lines, and Dr. Yvonne Reid was working with Dr. Ann Hamburger on cloning technology to identify stem cells.

Following an initial clinical scientist career path, my first in vitro biology research position, was developing an immunohematology laboratory to study the non-human primate, as a model for disease and biomedical translational therapeutics.  Dr Nathan Greene, an immunologist and I, with a core of 4 very young, talented technicians and a host of visiting post doctoral fellows, became expert using the new laminar flow hoods and learning how to interact and take biological samples from baboons, marmosets and chimpanzee.

The Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, and National Primate Center was a prestigious WHO Reference Center and contract research facility, for infectious disease.  In addition to a host of international scientific celebrities of the day, Dr David Baltimore, virologist and 1975 Nobel laureate was a frequent visitor and collaborator.

The scope of this pioneer in vitro work was the development of non-human primate models and commercial diagnostic products for lung cancer, infectious disease and environmental agents.  The immunology and pathophysiology of lung cells from experimental baboons were studied in relationship to: cigarette smoking, sulfate/bisulfate and nitrous oxide environmental exposures; and bleomycin induced lung cancer, to correlate human disease markers and cellular events.  This was the scientific era of precursor regenerative medicine and collaborations targeting tissue engineering advancements in vaccines.

My work with non-human primate models lead to the development of human cell models, hybridomas and therapeutic products in the clinical and biomedical cancer programs at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio.  Several important discoveries resulted in this work:

  • The MDA-A1R adriamycin resistant cell line and a monoclonal antibody were developed and are still used as a standard for testing and imaging drug-resistant breast cancer.
  • The medulloblastoma brain tumor cell line TE 671 was one of the first publications demonstrating that dibutyrl cyclic AMP regulates tumor growth and differentiation.
  • Using the EBV transformed lymphoid cell line 244B model, molecular markers and cellular pharmokinetics were identified following exposure and repair from hypothermia, ionizing and low-dose radiation.

As a major clinical research facility, this work also supported pre through phase 1-4 clinical trials outcomes for breast and prostate cancer and neuroectoderman brain tumors.

After the Department of Medicine loaned me to the military, to work on a Congressional Report requiring insurance companies to pay for clinical trials, I entered yet another scientific arena with the Department of Defense Vaccine Healthcare Centers and TriServices Medical Readiness.

The 1918 influenza pandemic, during World War 1, was devastating to the military, due to overcrowding and global troop movements.  The Gulf war was no exception to infectious disease with smallpox and anthrax vaccines being given “on the green” to >3 million soldiers engaged in a modern day battle.  To prevent the fall-out of another Agent Orange controversy, the Department of Defense created the Vaccine Healthcare Centers, to identify vaccine adverse events and other emerging diseases for the Triservices Military Health System.  Reporting to an Army 2 star General, instead of a Department Chairman, I became engaged in leading late phase smallpox and influenza vaccine trials, for cardiology and infectious disease outcomes.  The smallpox trials were critical, due to the prevalence of severe myocarditis and associated death following vaccination.

This work then lead to collaborations and studies with Dr Tom Goodman at the NASA, Johnson Space Center, who had developed 3D bioengineered human tissue organoids, from most of the major organs.  One of these organoids, mimicked all aspects of the human respiratory epithelium, as the next generation influenza vaccine technology for aerospace and warfighter applications.  This vaccine platform, in a rotary unit, simulating space flight, was found superior to the egg production system, as it sustained very rapid viral production and the ability to identify active virus, gene and protein regulation.

Highlights of my career have been collaboration with the Japanese Tissue Culture Association.  I was privileged to participate in the 50th year anniversary, International Symposium with developers of stem cell technology: Drs Peter Andrews, Steve Oh, Miho Furue, Tetsu Okamoto and in vitro pioneer Leonard Hayflick.  This collaboration also included a VIP tour of Dr Okamoto’s research facilities and laboratories.

I would be remiss to mention the World Congress, with celebrated dignitaries, Nobel Laureate, neurologist and biochemist Stanley Pruisner, and the world’s leading botanist and environmentalist Peter Raven.

The epi center of any scientific community is the long-time colleagues and friends that become our families, knowing more about us and our work than our mothers and fathers.  And certainly this epi center is about finding the best pub, or local restaurant to celebrate a Congress, or just the yearly meeting of close friends.

I have had an interesting and colorful career. I thank the Society for this award in recognition of my pioneering scientific contribution in the trenches.

It is most important to thank the supporting cast of this nomination and award:  Drs Okamoto and Sato for their nomination, Drs. Gertrude Case Buehring, Miho Furue, Cynthia Goodman, John Masters, Yvonne Reid, Alda Vidrich, Barbara Doonan, Thomas Goodwin, and Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic.  And to the Nikon Corporation for their very generous sponsorship of this award.

Submitted by Sandra L. Schneider