Gary K. Steinberg (PhD ’79, MD ’80)

The Stanford Medicine Alumni Association has announced that Gary K. Steinberg, MD, PhD, will receive the prestigious J. E. Wallace Sterling Lifetime Achievement Award in Medicine. He will be honored at a dinner held on the Stanford campus on December 5.

Gary K. Steinberg was born on July 31, 1952 in Brooklyn, New York and was raised in Westchester County, New York. He graduated summa cum laude with Honors in Biology from Yale University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Before attending medical school he studied classical trumpet on a music study scholarship at the Institute for Advanced Musical Studies in Montreux, Switzerland. He was accepted into the Medical Scientist Training Program at Stanford University School of Medicine and graduated with a MD and PhD in Neurosciences in 1980. He completed his surgical internship and residency in Neurological Surgery at Stanford. During his training he received an NIH NINDS Individual National Research Service Award to investigate aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, and he spent one year studying cerebrovascular surgery with Charles Drake in London, Canada.

In 1987 Dr. Steinberg joined the faculty at Stanford as an Assistant Professor in Neurosurgery, being promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 1993 and Professor in 1997. He founded the Stanford Stroke Center in 1991 and is currently the Co-Director. He was appointed Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford in 1995 and holds the Bernard and Ronni Lacroute–William Randolph Hearst Endowed Chair of Neurosurgery and the Neurosciences.  Dr Steinberg served as Director of the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences (SINTN) from 2008-2013.

Dr. Steinberg’s experimental research investigates the pathophysiology and treatment of acute cerebral ischemia, as well as methods to restore function after stroke. His laboratory has studied the role of excitatory amino acids, oxidative stress, inflammation and gene expression on experimental stroke, and has explored various therapeutic and restorative strategies such as NMDA antagonists, anti-inflammatory agents, mild brain hypothermia, gene transfer therapy, stem cell transplantation and optogenetic stimulation. He has received numerous grants including NIH NINDS R01, R21, P30 and P01 grants, with continuous NIH funding as Principal Investigator since 1987. In 2010 he was awarded a $20 million grant from the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) to investigate  neural stem cells for treatment of motor deficits following sub-cortical stroke and translate this into a Phase I clinical trial.

Steinberg maintains a busy clinical practice specializing in cerebrovascular surgery, with patient referrals nationally and internationally. His clinical research is focused on developing innovative surgical, endovascular and radiosurgical approaches for treating patients with difficult intracranial aneurysms, complex vascular malformations and occlusive cerebrovascular disorders including Moyamoya disease. He has also spearheaded several early phase clinical trials of stem cell transplantation for chronic stroke and subacute spinal cord injury. Dr. Steinberg is heavily involved in teaching, serving as Neurosurgery Program Director from 1995–2004 and training more than 150 residents, clinical fellows, post-doctoral research fellows, graduate students and medical students. He has published over 330 peer reviewed articles, more than 110 book chapters, and edited 3 books primarily related to clinical and basic aspects of cerebrovascular disease. 

The many honors Steinberg has received include an American Association of Neurological Surgeons Young Faculty Award, Guest Oral Examiner for the American Board of Neurological Surgery, Santa Clara County Medical Association 2010 Outstanding Achievement in Medicine Award, and 2015 President of the Western Neurosurgical Society.  He has been elected to Castle Connelly’s Top Doctors in America, America’s Top Surgeons, National Register’s Who’s Who, Best Doctors in America, Patients’ Choice America’s Most Compassionate Doctors, and International Health Professional of the Year. Dr. Steinberg has been Visiting Professor at numerous academic institutions internationally and given more than 540 invited talks at scientific meetings throughout the world. He has been a member of NIH NINDS Study Sections, the NIH NASCET Monitoring Committee, and served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, Neurosurgery, Cerebrovascular Diseases, the Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases, Indian Journal of Neurosurgery and World Neurosurgery. 

The J. E. Wallace Sterling Lifetime Alumni Achievement Award was first conferred in 1983. The award is named for the former Stanford University president who, in 1953, recommended that the Stanford Medical School be moved from San Francisco to join the main educational and research Stanford campus in Palo Alto.