Rothbaum named Centennial Professor of Pediatrics

Robert J. Rothbaum, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been appointed the inaugural Centennial Professor of Pediatrics.

The professorship was established in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Department of Pediatrics.

“The Department of Pediatrics has a rich history of groundbreaking discoveries, education and patient care over the last century,” says Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. “Among the most talented in his field, Bob Rothbaum is poised to perpetuate excellence in the department and carry it forward into the next century as the Centennial Professor of Pediatrics.”

“Our Department of Pediatrics is among the world’s best, and Bob Rothbaum is among the world’s best pediatricians,” says Larry J. Shapiro, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “His extraordinary reputation as a physician and educator makes him the perfect person to hold the inaugural Centennial Professorship of Pediatrics.”


Rothbaum is a professor of pediatrics and clinical director of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition in the Department of Pediatrics. He oversees the clinical activities of the outpatient office, ambulatory procedure center and inpatient service of the pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition service. In addition, he has been the coursemaster for The Practice of Medicine I, the central introduction to clinical medicine for first-year medical students, since 2001.

“Bob Rothbaum is among the absolute best as a clinician and an educator at the School of Medicine and in the history of the Department of Pediatrics,” says Alan L. Schwartz, PhD, MD, the Harriet B. Spoehrer Professor and chair of Pediatrics and pediatrician-in-chief at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “He is a superior practitioner of both the science and the art of medicine.”

Rothbaum’s installation as the Centennial Professor will be held this fall.

Longtime colleague James P. Keating, MD, the W. McKim O. Marriott Professor of Pediatrics, said Rothbaum was one of the top three residents he had ever worked with. The other two were Joseph Volpe, MD, now Bronson Crothers Professor of Neurology at Children’s Hospital Boston, and Shapiro.

“At the time I had been in medicine only 15 years and had a frame of reference of 200 pediatric residents at Harvard University and Washington University,” Keating says. “Now with more than 1,000 residents to think about, he remains at the top.”

Rothbaum joined the Washington University School of Medicine faculty in 1982 and became full professor in 1999. From 1983-1992, he directed the Cystic Fibrosis Center. Since 1992, he has been clinical director of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition.

“I am honored to be the inaugural recipient of the Centennial Professor of Pediatrics,” Rothbaum says. “I am fortunate to work with inspiring colleagues and dedicated, compassionate caregivers, all focused on the mission of advancing the health and well-being of children and families. My wife, Cynthia, and our five children – Emily, Martha, Rebecca, Laura and Jacob – supported and encouraged my efforts here, too.”

At St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Rothbaum served as the president of the medical staff from 2007-09 and as chairman of the medical executive committee. He was the original medical director of St. Louis Children’s Hospital Home Care and spearheaded the development of Children’s Direct, a telephone-based concierge service for physicians referring patients to Washington University Medical Center. He also was an attending physician on the general pediatrics service for 20 years.

Rothbaum has received numerous awards and honors for his teaching and service. In 2008, he was awarded a Distinguished Faculty Award at Founder’s Day as well as the Distinguished Service Teaching Award from the medical school. In 2007, he received the Samuel Goldstein Teaching Award, the medical school’s highest honor for educators. He also has received the Teacher of the Year Award from the St. Louis Children’s Hospital pediatrics residency program.

In gratitude for his longtime involvement and support, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America awarded him the Physician of the Year award in 1998. He also serves as medical director for the foundation’s Camp Oasis held each summer for about 75 children with inflammatory bowel disease.

A native of Indianapolis, Rothbaum earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a medical degree from the University of Chicago School of Medicine. He completed a pediatrics residency and an ambulatory pediatrics fellowship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, then completed a fellowship in pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.