Joseph H. Steinbach, PhD
Joseph H. (Joe Henry) Steinbach, Ph.D., is the Russell D. and Mary B. Shelden Professor of Anesthesiology and professor of anatomy and neurobiology. He is known as an exemplary scientist, administrator and mentor credited with bringing the Department of Anesthesiology’s Research Unit to national prominence.
Steinbach earned his undergraduate degree from Reed College in 1968 and his doctoral degree in biology from the University of California, San Diego in 1973. He completed postdoctoral fellowships in physiology at the University of Washington and Yale University.
Steinbach was recruited to Washington University from the Salk Institute in 1984 as an associate professor and was charged with improving basic research in the department — which at the time had no National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and no principal investigators. During Steinbach’s 24-year tenure as director of the Anesthesiology Research Unit, the department has moved in NIH funding from a tie for last place among anesthesiology departments nationwide up to second overall. Research space has increased from nothing to the entire fifth floor of the Clinical Sciences Research Building, and the department’s anesthesiology research is now fully part of the academic fabric of the School of Medicine. Steinbach was named the Shelden professor in 1998.
Steinbach’s own research has made significant contributions to his field. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed articles describing fundamental advances in neuroscience such as the refinement of the patch clamp electrophysiological method in collaboration with Neher and Sakmann, who shared a Nobel Prize for the method; the changing distribution and electrophysiological properties of acetylcholine receptors during muscle development and innervation; and fundamental properties of ligand-gated ion channels. Continuously funded by the NIH since 1984, Steinbach is the PI of an $8.8 million grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and an R01 grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders.