Manfred Steiner

November 23, 1931 ~ January 7, 2023 (age 91) 91 Years Old


Manfred Steiner M.D. Ph.D. passed away Saturday January 7, 2023 at the age of 91 at Rhode Island hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. He was born November 23, 1931 in Vienna, Austria and is survived by his beloved wife Sheila Steiner M.D. in Riverside Rhode Island and son Manfred Steiner and daughter Gabrielle Uri. He has six grandchildren:  Sarah, Heidi, Madeline, Allison, Tallie and John Peter. At the age of 89, Manfred Steiner was finally what he always wanted to be: a physicist. After successfully defending his dissertation, Manfred received his Ph. D. from Brown University’s Department of Physics. It is the realization of a lifelong dream-albeit one that was temporarily interrupted by a 30-plus-year career in medicine.

It’s an old dream that starts in my childhood Manfred said. I always wanted to become a physicist. Now that he is done it, he had planned to continue working with his advisor, physics professor Brad Marston, to publish journal articles based on his dissertation, titled “Corrections to the Geometrical Interpretation of Bosonization”.

As a young man, Manfred fled the chaos of his birthplace of Vienna as World War II ended and eventually made his way to the United States. He went on to earn a medical doctorate in 1955 from the University of Vienna and soon after his graduation he made his way to Washington, D.C. where he finished his initial training in internal medicine. He next began a traineeship in hematology at Tufts University. The traineeship included a three-year training in biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and he earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry there in 1967.

He moved to Rhode Island when he was offered a position as a hematologist in the newly established Program in Medicine at Brown University. In 1968 he was appointed as an assistant professor of medicine, working primarily in research. He was promoted to full professor in 1978. In 1985 he was appointed head of the hematology section of the medical school, a position he held until 1994.

When approaching retirement, an associate of his became chief of hematology at the University of North Carolina, Greenville, and asked Manfred to join him to establish a research program in hematology. Manfred went on to direct that program until 2000, when he retired from medicine and returned to Rhode Island. All the while, his passion for physics never left him. But throughout his long career in medicine, he says he never stopped thinking about physics. Physics was always a part of me and when I retired from medicine, and I was approaching age 70 I decided to enter the world of physics.

He found the Brown Physics Department a welcoming environment for a late-in-life learner. He did not consciously set out to earn a third doctoral degree when he began his studies at Brown. But by the spring of 2007 he had completed enough classes to be admitted to the graduate school as a Ph.D. degree candidate. His advisor Professor James Valles stated that he gave Manfred a challenging project. Professor Valles says he considers Manfred an inspirational figure. His excitement about physics in someone who had such a stellar career in another field felt really affirming. His advisor describes working with Manfred as pleasurable and adds the theory that he was doing involves techniques that are incredibly advanced and challenging to master. Of his dissertation Professor Valles says Manfred did an amazing job describing the march of physics in the context of bosonization. He believes in the human minds capacity to advance and create knowledge. Seeing him do it was incredibly inspiring, enabling, and empowering to me as a physicist. Having successfully defended his thesis and completed all requirements for a Ph.D. in physics Manfred was ecstatic. It feels good he said. I am on top of the world. And despite this being his third doctoral degree, its particularly special to him. This PhD is the one that I most cherish because it’s the one that I was striving for my whole life he said.

Manfred was not prepared to rest on his laurels. He was currently reworking part of his dissertation for publication and planned to continue his theoretical physics work. That perseverance helped him accomplish that. He believed he still had more to offer. I always tried to keep my brain sharp he said, and physics certainly helped him do that.

I could not imagine spending my life playing golf all the time. He wanted to do something that kept his mind active. But it is a matter of whatever you want to do. If you have a dream, follow it. Sometimes that dream may never have been verbalized, it may be buried in the subconscious. It is important not to waste your older days. There is a lot of brainpower in older people, and I think it can be of enormous benefit to younger generations. Older people have experience and many times history repeats itself. He thought young people should follow their dreams whatever they are. They will always regret it if they do not follow their dreams he thought.

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