Schwab, Robert S. 1904 - 1972


(1904-1972), electroencephalographer

Robert S. Schwab was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1904. He trained in physiology at Cambridge University before qualifying in medicine at Harvard Medical School. He went on to specialise in neurology at the Boston City and Massachusetts General Hospitals, as well as training in neuropathology at the University of Munich and psychiatry at the Boston Psychiatric Hospital.

In 1937, Schwab established and became director of the Brian Wave Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he remained until his retirement in 1968. During his tenure, Schwab established the first technical training course in electroencephalography (EEG, the measurement of the electrical activity of the brain) to be supported by the United States Public Health Service, and conducted research on a number of topics including Parkinson’s disease and the use of EEG in establishing the criteria for death.

Schwab also played a key role in the professional organisation of electroencephalography, serving as President for both the Eastern Association of Electroencephalographers and the American EEG Society and Vice-President of the International Federation of Societies for Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology. He also served as an editor of The EEG Journal throughout his career.

Schwab was married twice, first to Dorothy Schwab (d.1971) and then to Joan Sheahan. Schwab died in Boston, Massachusetts on 6 April 1972.