On April 1, 2019, the NIH and NIBIB communities lost a respected and admired scientific-team member, Steven H. Krosnick, M.D., following a courageous battle with cancer. During a 20-year career as an NIH medical officer, Steve’s positions included program director in NCI’s Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis, scientific review administrator in the Center for Scientific Review, director of the NIBIB program in Image-Guided Interventions, and head of the NIBIB portfolio evaluation office.
Steve grew up in Bucks County, Pa., where he graduated in 1979 from Pennsbury High School. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983 and his M.D. from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1987. He continued training in the Tufts University system for diagnostic radiology and radiation oncology, with board certification in both.
Under Steve’s eight-year leadership of the NIBIB program in Image-Guided Interventions, he cultivated a portfolio of projects encompassing cutting-edge technologies for imaging and robotics to enable less-invasive and more accurate surgeries. These have included techniques to perform minimally invasive intracranial surgery, real-time intra-operative MRI guidance during brain tumor surgery, illumination of nerves during surgery, and image-based guidance for spine surgery.
Expressing the loss felt by colleagues at the institute, NIBIB Director Bruce Tromberg, Ph.D., said, “Steve was a widely admired and generous colleague who cared deeply about his coworkers and the NIH community.”
The NIBIB family extends condolences to Steve’s wife Lisa, and daughters Rebecca and Sarah.
Additional thoughts and reflections may be shared below.
My condolences to Steve's family--Lisa, Rebecca and Sarah--for their great loss. I have been fortunate to know Steve through multiple venues...the neighborhood and at NIBIB. I will miss our conversations about family and about Philly, comparing notes about our yards and cars, and his conscientious participation in being a spokesperson or topic expert for stories about imaging and device technologies. Our first encounter was as dad's on a father-daughter camp out--I didn't catch a hint that he was a radiologist, let alone NIH expert in the field. Later, he was one of the first to welcome me to the position that I took with NIBIB. It won't be the same at the office, but we are all grateful and the better for having been on Steve's team.
Dear Dr. Tromberg and friends
Please accept my deepest sympathies on the loss of Steve. I was so sad to learn the news last Monday. You have lost a dedicated, trustworthy and all round great member of your family there at NIBIB.
I have known and worked with Steve for many years and came to really appreciate all of his dedication to our research, to our team, his wisdom and input was always valued highly. I miss him.
In fact we were rehearsing for an upcoming EAB when the news came in and I shared it with the team – we spent time sharing thoughts and memories of working with Steve, who has been our program officer for many years. The group all agreed that we were truly grateful for Steve’s contributions and were all deeply shocked and saddened to hear the news. We remembered his joy in touring our AMIGO space seeing live cases being performed, his constant presence at our meetings and his interactions with Ferenc Jolesz and we like to imagine they can now continue their conversations together.
We all send our deepest condolences to you all and his wife and family.
Steve was one of the most knowledgable and kindest individuals that I have had the pleasure of working with at NIH. I'll miss him.
Steve was a knowledgeable, generous and dignified colleague who is sorely missed.
My deepest condolences to Steve's family. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Steve and am deeply sorry for this tragic loss.
A great loss of a wonderful colleague. My condolences go to Steve's family.
Steve worked at the National Institutes of Health for about 18 years: at the National Cancer Institute, the Center for Scientific Review, and, for the past eight years, at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). The 240 or so co-workers at NIBIB, and the thousands more in government, academia, and industry who interacted with Steve also benefitted from his remarkable contributions.
From my first town hall meeting after only two days on the job, to our weekly program director and senior leadership meetings, Steve’s extraordinary qualities and abilities were always around us. We’ve consistently felt his presence and fully expected him to walk through the door to re-assume leadership of his many programs and projects.
In the words of his colleagues, Steve was…reassuring, kind, intuitive, compassionate, deeply knowledgeable, counted-on, interested, unpretentious, welcoming, generous, practical, and human. We counted on him for his credibility, integrity, ability to bring people together, and for the look he gave you…a nod of sympathy and understanding. These more than 15 English words and phrases, and there are more, can be represented by a single word in Yiddish: Steve was a Mensch.
We honor and remember Steve each day by doing our best to continue to inspire the image of his approving nod. We are reminded by Steve to ask each other about our children, to dedicate ourselves to the betterment of humankind, and to do everything we can to stay on the right track, the Krosnick track.
Steve was a man of generosity, warmth, and kindness. He was always there to offer wisdom and humor. I get the sense he had his own unique running jokes with each of us, tailored specifically to our personalities via his quirky sense of humor.
And this extends beyond his fellow federal workers. I had listened in on some calls with his grantees, and they also got the personal touch.
It also bears mentioning just how proud he was of his daughters. Steve was always beaming when describing their accomplishments and major life milestones.
As I think of Steve, some of his defining qualities come immediately to my mind: thoughtful, thorough, kind, quiet, gentle, knowledgeable, caring, proud father. Whenever I’ve brought Steve’s name up to others, the first thing they say is that “Steve is one of the nicest people I know.” On a practical note, I remember Steve bringing the best sweet breads to our division meetings! Professionally, Steve was a generous colleague, graciously accepted to take over the surgical tools, techniques and systems program when my own program activities were getting too full. I also enjoyed our work together on the National Robotics Initiative.
Steve became my supervisor about three years ago, and he insisted that we meet every Monday morning at 10am. Most people would cringe at the thought of meeting with their boss every Monday morning, and I was certainly anxious about it initially. If you know Steve, you can appreciate that it didn’t take long for those meetings to become my favorite part of the week.
Steve began every meeting by asking about my weekend. We discussed spending time with family, the blessings and challenges of raising children (he spoke frequently, lovingly, and proudly of his daughters), current social, political, and ethical issues, and, of course, sports. We routinely ran out of time to discuss work.
Steve remained genuinely interested and invested in our friendship, which continued to be a true motivating factor at work.
Steve had a big heart and could personally connect with anyone he met.
He LOVED talking about our families, always wanting to know what the kids were up to and telling us about what his girls were up to. He got a kick out of the fact that his younger daughter and I went to the same college—about 18 years apart. His recent pictures of campus always led to sharing some stories about college life or grad/med school, maybe talking about a restaurant or two, and ended with a little more about the kids.
Steve enjoyed his work and made a big impact along the way. I recall how he took a lot of pride in serving as the primary point of contact for NIBIB during the clinical trials changes at NIH. I think everyone had a conversation with him about their portfolio and its intersection with clinical trials, and while he professed to not be an expert, we all knew that his careful assessment was the gold standard.
Personally, I always enjoyed when he stopped by and asked for my help as he thought through a case study. The guy with no clinical trials! It just showed how much he loved hearing everyone’s perspectives as he worked his way through the logic arguments. Sure, it was a little academic, but he knew the seriousness of it too.
Steve was a very personable soul. He frequently asked about my kids and what they would be doing after graduation. His are already in grad school and law school, mine are still in college and high school. He was a Renaissance man, delving into literary references and fashion at times, once asking if the pattern on my shirt was Tattersall, so we looked it up and—sure enough it was. Our cars were conveniences to get around, not something that needed a lot of care and polishing, inside and out. His practicality was very comforting.
Steve emitted waves of kindness. I recall how on the way back from a site visit in Boston, while waiting for our flight, Steve and I were chatting about the rich environment in Boston with its many research/clinical hospitals. Next day after the trip, he came up to my office with print-out story he found on the internet about Brigham and Women’s Hospital and how it was created. Steve always remembered to come back to you, to follow up the conversation with some supporting information.
Steve had a kind and inviting disposition and was a true scholar and gentleman.
Steve had a knack for making everyone feel valued, and always sought to understand situations from all perspectives, before making what were invariably wise decisions. This is an enormous loss for not only the NIH, but the scientific community in general.
Another quality Steve shared with me was his resolute attitude on inclusion of women and minorities in science and technology. He served as my alternate/co-lead on the working groups on inclusion of women and minorities in research, and on research on women's health, and with both of us having more than one daughter we had a unique bond that grew stronger with our stories shared of their successes and challenges.
We lost a hero when Steve died. He was always thoughtful, considerate, unflinching in applying the rules strictly, but with great heart and understanding that found a way through the thorniest thickets. What an effective way to deal with complex human subjects issues! And true to his dedication to the facts, he was always able to point to the relevant policy language to support conclusions. He was the unlucky one to get some really tricky and often frustrating assignments, but made them look almost easy (when everyone knew they were not!).
But the thing I remember most (and most dearly) about Dr. Krosnick is that he realized that putting people and family first was not a weakness, but a strength. We all benefited from his endless interest in what was nearest and dearest to us, and we came away from our interactions with him renewed and revitalized. We were better colleagues when he was around, and he is greatly missed.