April 19, 2017

Colleagues to honor Schafer’s life, career at May 12 ceremony

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UABArchives Schafer sized Photo of James A. Schafer, Ph.D., courtesy of the UAB Archives. James A. Schafer, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology, passed away March 5, 2017 after a brief illness. He was 76.

The Departments of Medicine and Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology, along with the Division of Nephrology and Nephrology Research and Training Center will host a celebration to honor Schafer’s life and work from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, May 12 in the Finley Conference Center, located inside the Kaul Genetics Building, 720 20th Street South.

Schafer joined UAB’s Departments of Physiology and Biophysics in 1970, and spent his distinguished career at the university. He was a founding member of the Division of Nephrology in the Department of Medicine.

“Dr. Schafer was an outstanding teacher, mentor and researcher,” said Anupam Agarwal, executive vice dean and director of the Division of Nephrology. “He was a wonderful man, and I am grateful to have known him as both a colleague and close friend.”

Schafer’s body of research focused on the mechanisms of ion and water transport in the collecting duct and the proximal tubule and their regulation. He made numerous seminal contributions to academic nephrology, specifically in renal physiology and published over 150 papers, reviews and book chapters.  He was recognized by several awards including the prestigious Homer Smith award from the American Society of Nephrology, the Carl Gottschalk lectureship from the American Physiological Society, Robert Berliner award from the Renal section of the American Physiological Society, Robert Pitts Award from the International Congress of Physiology, recipient of an Established Investigator  Award from the American Heart Association, Andreoli lectureship at UAB, and honorary membership in the American Society for Clinical Investigation. 

He served as an editor of the American Journal of Physiology: Renal, Fluid and Electrolyte Physiology, President of the American Physiological Society and was elected Secretary-Treasurer and member of the Council of the American Society of Nephrology.  He was a recipient of numerous teaching awards at UAB including the UAB President’s Achievement Award. 

“Jim was someone who could have gone to any number of institutions in his career, but he loved it here at UAB and truly loved conducting basic science research and teaching,” said Edwin Rutsky, M.D., professor emeritus of Medicine who knew Schafer for more than 45 years. “Jim was an excellent teacher, an incredible colleague and collaborator—a great man to work with and be around.”

To recognize his key contributions, the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees established the Dr. James A Schafer, Ph.D., NRTC Endowed Professorship perpetual funding to further the research agenda of the Division of Nephrology in the Department of Medicine, and the nephrology research space on the 6th floor of the Zeigler Building was named as the Schafer laboratories in Nephrology.

He is survived by his wife, Margy; his sister, Joan Schafer Ringheim; his two children, James Arthur Schafer, Jr. and Kirsten Schafer  Smith; their spouses, Jane Ernestine Lesnick and John "Sage" Vinson Smith; and four grandchildren, Julius James Lesnick Schafer (7), Willow Rose Smith (6), Hazel Rain Smith (3), and Jacob Alessandro Lesnick Schafer (2).