Lev Elson-Schwab, PhD

Current Roles

Lev Elson-Schwab, PhD, is a core faculty member in the Department of Basic Sciences at Bastyr University.


  • BS in biochemistry and molecular biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz
  • PhD in chemistry from the University of California, San Diego

Past Experience

Dr. Elson-Schwab's experience includes teaching undergraduate, community college and graduate-level chemistry classes to science and non-science majors. He also has a background in synthetic organic chemistry, biochemistry/molecular biology and cell biology research, with research experience at the undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral levels.

Classes Taught

Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Lab Research Methods


Dr. Elson-Schwab's professional interests include the development of a general, organic and biochemistry curriculum that is rigorous but contains relevant and concrete examples so that students of all levels can appreciate and understand the material. His personal interests include spending time with his family, rugby and martial arts.


By the end of each course, Dr. Elson-Schwab hopes to instill an appreciation, if not a love, for chemistry in his students and wants them to have the desire to always want to learn more about how their world works. He tries to teach them to think like scientists in all that they do so they will always understand the "hows" and "whys" of what is happening.

Current Research

Development of Novel Curcumin Analogs

Curcumin (the active ingredient in the spice turmeric) is one of the more successful chemopreventive compounds investigated in the past few decades.  While the mechanism of action of curcumin is complex and likely has multiple factors, it has been show to act as an iron chelator.  Curcumin exhibits great promise as a therapeutic agent, however it is not without significant issues including poor bioavailability (likely due to poor water solubility), poor absorbtion and rapid metabolism/elimination.  The current focus of my research is to develop novel curcumin analogs with enhanced iron chelating activity and/or water solubility, leading towards the goal of increased bioavailability and biological activity.


Portrait of Lev Elson-Schwab
Lev Elson-Schwab PhD
School of Natural Health Arts & Sciences
Department of Basic Sciences