Robert T. Schimke was born in Spokane, Washington on October 25, 1932. He received both undergraduate (B.S. '54) and graduate (M.D. '58) degrees from Stanford University. After 2 years of medical residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital (1958-1960), he spent the next 6 years at the National Institute of Health (1960-1966) where his ground-breaking research showed that proteins were continuously both synthesized and degraded (first clear evidence for protein turnover). That the rate of turnover was important in regulation of biological processes and that the rate of degradation of a protein can be regulated.

He returned to Stanford University in 1966 where he was chairman of the Department of Pharmacology ('69-'72) and subsequently chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences ('78-'82. For the next 10 years, his research concentrated on how steroid hormones regulate the synthesis of specific proteins. On the cusp of the development of gene cloning, these studies helped develop many of the "new" techniques. In 1977, Schimke made another ground breaking discovery, gene amplification in mammalian cells. This discovery has been important for understanding genomic instability in cancer and in initiating the study of resistance mechanisms in cancer chemotherapy. Additionally, gene amplification is employed in the biotechnology industry for the synthesis of highly important protein products including erythropoetin (EPO), tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), and hemophiliac factor (HF).

The last 10 years of his research career were devoted to understanding how perturbations of cell cycle progression/regulation led to genomic stability (gene amplification and aneuploidy) or cell death (apoptosis).

His publications can be found at Pub Med.

Schimke has received many honors for his research, including the Sloan Prize from the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, and an American Cancer Society Research Professorship. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences. He has served as President of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He has also served on editorial boards of various biochemical and molecular biology journals for over 34 years and has served on various scientific advisory boards. In addition, some 100 scientists have been trained/worked in Schimke's laboratory, many of whom have gone on to make significant contributions to biochemistry and molecular biology.