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In memoriam: Anna Steinberger, PhD

January 16, 2024 By: Office of Commuication, UTHealth Houston McGovern Medical

In memoriam: Anna Steinberger, PhD

Anna Steinberger, PhD, professor emerita of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences, died Dec. 28, 2023, in Houston. She was 95.

A native of Poland, she and her husband Emil emigrated to the United States after World War II, by way of Russia and Germany before landing in New York. She completed her graduate studies in the United States, leaving Germany in the midst of her medical degree education. Prior to joining the Medical School faculty, she was a researcher at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.

Recruited by inaugural dean Cheves Smythe, MD, she and Emil joined the Medical School faculty in 1971 as founding faculty members. She also joined the Graduate School’s faculty in the same year. She was appointed associate professor in the Department Reproductive Medicine and Biology (and Emil was the chair).

“A founding faculty member, Anna’s dedication, high academic standards and good humor was an inspiration to all and helped set the young school on a path to excellence in scholarship and research,” said Jack Byrne, PhD, professor of neurobiology and anatomy, associate dean for research, and June and Virgil Waggoner Chair.

After retiring in 1994 and being named professor emerita in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Steinberger returned to the Medical School in 1995 in a half-time position as assistant dean in the newly minted Office of Faculty Affairs.

She was named professor emerita at the school and retired from the medical school in 2002.

During McGovern Medical School’s 50th anniversary celebration, she shared her story.

“Dr. Steinberger and Dr. Henry Strobel were the first leaders of our Office of Faculty Affairs. I’d like to think that both of them would be proud to see how the office has grown in nearly 30 years, and how much support we now provide to our outstanding McGovern faculty,” said Kevin Morano, PhD, GSBS faculty member and senior vice president of Academic and Faculty Affairs.

Steinberger’s research, which paved the way for in vitro models for studying the process of spermatogenesis, was continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health, the March of Dimes, and other foundations. She and Emil were instrumental in establishing the American Society of Andrology in 1974, and she trained and influenced numerous scientists across the globe.

“She was a faculty colleague, mentor, outstanding endocrinologist/reproductive biologist, loving wife and mother, and champion for the invaluable role of women in academic medicine.  Most of all, Anna was a friendly and compassionate role model for students with a love for travel and adventure that inspired all who knew her,” said Bryant Boutwell, DrPH, retired John P. McGovern, MD Professor of Oslerian Medicine.

In 2002, Steinberger’s passion for education and remembrance led her to the Holocaust Museum Houston, where she served as a docent, board member, and lecturer. In 2009, she was appointed as one of 15 commissioners to the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission, educating teachers on how to instruct about the Holocaust and genocides.

Her numerous awards included the Women in Endocrinology Mentor Award 2006 from the Endocrine Society, the Distinguished Andrologist Award from the American Society of Andrology, being named the first honorary member of the Polish Andrology Society, the Medal from the Jagellonian University, the Women in Science Silver Professional Achievement Award, and the Outstanding Women of Excellence Award from the Federation of Houston Professional Society.

One of the Medical School’s McGovern Societies, which are integrated mentoring groups for McGovern students, was named in her honor.

“Dr. Anna has been one of the best in our academic community,” said Heinrich Taegtmeyer, MD, DPhil, Graduate School faculty member and professor of internal medicine. “In 1982, when I interviewed in Houston, it was Dr. Anna and Dr. Emil who convinced me that UT Houston was an excellent place to teach, treat patients, and do research. I am still grateful for Dr. Anna’s advice. Long live the memory of Dr. Anna in our hearts! And long live the memory of her many contributions to McGovern Medical School.”

Preceded in death by her husband Emil, survivors include her daughters, Pauline Solnik, and Inette Brown (Joshua), and her grandson Mathew. A funeral service honoring Anna’s life was held at Emanu El Memorial Park Jan. 3.

She created the Drs. Emil and Anna Steinberger Research Award in Ob-Gyn/Reproductive for MS4 students. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that gifts be made to UTHealth Houston, PO Box 20268, Houston, TX 77025-9998 or


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