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Ohio Wesleyan Graduate Paul R. Schimmel, Ph.D., to Speak at University’s 2018 Commencement Ceremony

By Cole Hatcher

Paul R. Schimmel, Ph.D. ’62

DELAWARE, Ohio – Since graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1962, Paul R. Schimmel’s groundbreaking research has helped to launch the human genome project, uncover a “vast new area of biology,” and support the development of new types of biopharmaceuticals to halt debilitating disease.

A pre-professional medicine major at Ohio Wesleyan, Schimmel, Ph.D., will discuss his journey and share life lessons with the Class of 2018 when he delivers the keynote address May 12 at OWU’s 174th commencement ceremony. The title of his talk is “The Only Way to Be a Great Dancer.”

Senior Class President Madeleine Juszynski of Atlanta, Georgia, said she looks forward to hearing Schimmel’s inspiring story.

“I am excited to hear Paul Schimmel speak about his illustrious career,” said Juszynski, who is majoring in economics and minoring in accounting and Mandarin Chinese. “His work in the sciences has added to the wealth of human knowledge … and his work at Hong Kong University underscores the importance of cooperation and cross-study in a global society.”

After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan, Schimmel enrolled in medical school but dropped out and went on to earn his doctorate in biophysical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Since 1997, he has served as the Ernest and Jean Hahn Professor of Molecular Medicine and Chemistry and a member of the faculty of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at the Scripps Research Institute, with laboratories on both the institute’s California and Florida campuses. He holds a joint appointment with the Institute for Advanced Study at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Previously, Schimmel served as the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Inventors, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has authored or co-authored more than 480 scientific papers.

Schimmel’s primary research has focused on decoding genetic information, especially the universal genetic code. In the 1980s, he helped to develop a technique – the expressed sequence tags method – that has been hailed as one of four key developments enabling the human genome project to succeed.

His more recent work has resulted, in 2014, in his laboratory announcing the discovery of nearly 250 protein splice variants of an evolutionarily conserved family of human genes – a “vast new area of biology.”

Today, Schimmel’s research also explores how errors are prevented in the flow of genetic information and, as a result, how disease may be controlled with biopharmaceuticals. He holds several patents and is a co-founder or founding director of multiple biotechnology companies, of which seven became publicly traded on the NASDAQ and others were sold in private transactions.

In 1996, Schimmel was recognized with an Ohio Wesleyan Honorary Doctor of Science degree in recognition of “the relevancy and importance of (his) work to the quality of life for our global community.” In 2007, he received an OWU Distinguished Achievement Citation.

His ongoing involvement with the university includes the Schimmel Scholars Program, endowed by Schimmel and his wife, Cleo Ritz Schimmel, also Class of 1962. A full-tuition Schimmel Scholars fellowship is awarded each year to an incoming female student with an outstanding academic record and demonstrated leadership abilities.

In addition, the university’s state-of-the-art Schimmel/Conrades Science Center is named, in part, in recognition of the Schimmels, including Paul Schimmel’s accomplishments as one of the world’s pre-eminent scientists. (The center also is named in recognition of his fraternity brother, classmate in the sciences, long-time friend, and previous commencement speaker George H. Conrades, Class of 1961, and Conrades’ wife, Patricia Belt Conrades, Class of 1963.)

Ohio Wesleyan’s 2018 commencement ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. May 12. Weather permitting, the event will be held outdoors on the lawn in front of Merrick Hall, 65 S. Sandusky St., Delaware. The ceremony will be streamed live and archived online at Learn more at

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives” and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at