Scientist Named Keck Graduate Institute President

Times Staff Writer

Sheldon M. Schuster, a University of Florida professor and administrator, will become the second president of Keck Graduate Institute, a life sciences graduate school in Claremont, the school announced Tuesday.

Schuster, a biochemist and cancer researcher, is a vice president of research at Florida, where he also directs the school's biotechnology program.

The Keck Graduate Institute opened in 1997 as part of the Claremont Colleges, a cluster of highly regarded, primarily undergraduate colleges 35 miles east of Los Angeles.

An unusual hybrid, Keck bills itself as a professional school for industries such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and medical instruments. It offers one degree, a master of bioscience.

Instead of basic research, students and faculty focus on finding commercial uses for scientific advances.

"We are more oriented to the application of discoveries to real-life problems," said Henry Riggs, the school's founding president, who previously headed Harvey Mudd College, the engineering school at the Claremont Colleges.

Schuster said the school fills a growing need for industry and society with the rapid growth of biotechnology.

"Most biotech companies fail, not because of bad technology, but poor management. We are losing medical cures, new foods" and methods of environmental restoration, he said.

Schuster said Keck graduates, with both scientific and business training, ideally will "take a particular set of discoveries to the marketplace."

He will lead efforts to double the size of the school, which now enrolls 60, and start a doctoral program.

Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Schuster has been at Florida since 1989. Before that, he had been a professor for 13 years at the University of Nebraska. He holds a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Arizona and an undergraduate biochemistry degree from UC Davis.

Riggs, 68, is retiring, but will serve as chairman of the school's board of trustees. Schuster's appointment as president will begin July 15.

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