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John Steinhaus, founding chair of Emory Department of Anesthesiology, dies

John E. Steinhaus

John E. Steinhaus, a pioneer in the field of anesthesiology and Emory University's founding chair and chair emeritus of the Department of Anesthesiology, passed away on Feb. 17.

Steinhaus served as chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology at Emory School of Medicine from 1958 until 1983.  He retired from practice in 1987. His academic career included extensive research in the pharmacology of anesthetic drugs including lidocaine. 

He served as president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in 1970. He also served as president of the Association of University Anesthetists, the Anesthesia History Association and the Anesthesia Foundation. Additionally, he was one of the authors of a landmark study on task analysis -- along with Nick Gravenstein and Perry Volpito -- leading directly to the creation of the anesthesia assistants profession.

"Steinhaus was – and always will – remain an extremely important figure within the department, at Emory University, and across the field of anesthesiology," says Laureen Hill, professor and chair of the Department of Anesthesiology.  "After speaking to many members of the department about Dr. Steinhaus, it is clear he will be fondly remembered as one of the founding fathers of anesthesiology, and his presence, wisdom and personal charm will be sorely missed."

Steinhaus had a series of roles in attracting medical students to the specialty, and in developing qualified anesthesiologists. In the American Society of Anesthesiologists, he was instrumental in developing the Medical Student Summer Preceptor Program, the regional Teaching Seminars in Anesthesia, and chaired a number of committees including the training and recruitment committee, the Council on Medical Education, the Committee on Peer Review and the Committee on Manpower.

At Emory, Steinhaus created CPR training for medical students, initiated a post-graduate course, "Pharmacology for the Anesthesiologist," assembled the first residency training program brochure, attracted those in other specialties to pursue a career in anesthesiology, hired the first minority medical school faculty member, and recruited the first academic department business manager, Col. Tom Grissom, who in turn became a consultant to other departmental chairs at Emory and around the United States. He also oversaw at Emory the training of more than 250 anesthesiology residents, and he established the nation's first master's degree program to train anesthesiologist physician assistants in 1968.  

Steinhaus is survived by his wife Mila Jean Pinkerton Steinhaus, five children, nine grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.

A tribute event is being planned for the near future. Anyone wishing to include a message in honor and memory of  Steinhaus may direct them to: Laureen Hill at Those wishing to make donations in his honor may direct them to Georgia Pastoral Care,

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