Obituary: Thomas H. Steinberg, MD, associate professor of medicine, 61


Thomas H. Steinberg, MD, associate professor of medicine, died Sunday, June 16, 2013, in St. Louis of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He was 61.

Steinberg, a cell biology researcher and infectious diseases physician, joined Washington University School of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases in 1989. His primary research training was as a macrophage cell biologist, though the focus of his lab evolved to encompass several areas related to intercellular communication.

“He was a great scientist and a very kind and compassionate physician,” said Victoria Fraser, MD, the Adolphus Busch Professor of Medicine and head of the Department of Medicine. “He was well-recognized as an outstanding teacher and was an advocate for students at all levels. He will be missed by us all. He had ALS, but was able to keep his sense of humor, his grace and love for life until the disease overcame him.”

Steinberg’s family enjoyed every aspect of his unique personality. They, together, described him as: “a renowned punster and gentle humorist who loved education, science, Danish licorice, the music of Ennio Morricone and Captain Beefheart, obscure movies, his legion of friends and, most of all, his family. He was a devoted father who overcame great hardship to care for his three loving children. His kindness, wry wit and clear-headed approach to life inspired others and enriched those he loved with humor, strength and common sense.”

Steinberg earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard University, medical degree from New York University School of Medicine and completed his internal medicine residency and infectious diseases fellowship at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta and Emory University. He subsequently completed a research fellowship at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and was on the faculty there before coming to Washington University.

He is survived by his wife, Deborah Peterson; mother, Muriel Steinberg, MD; brother, James Steinberg, MD; children, Danny, Becca and Deborah Steinberg; and stepchildren, Ben, Nick and Elizabeth Peterson. He was preceded in death by his father, Maurice Steinberg, MD.

Steinberg’s family hosted an open house in his honor Saturday, June 22, during which his life was celebrated.

Memorial contributions may be made to the St. Louis Regional Chapter of the ALS Association, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis or to a charity of one’s choice.