The ASPEN Board of Directors is pleased to announce that it has bestowed the 2022 ASPEN Lifetime Achievement Award upon Ezra Steiger, MD, FACS, FASPEN, AGAF. Dr. Steiger will be honored for his groundbreaking and lifelong contributions as a pioneering researcher and practitioner who brought parenteral nutrition to the hospital and home, as well as for his continuing service to ASPEN. This Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented on March 26 at the ASPEN 2022 Nutrition Science & Practice Conference in Seattle, Washington.
Dr. Steiger, a professor of surgery at Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner College of Medicine, Center for Human Nutrition, Digestive Disease and Surgery Institute, was among the first physicians to demonstrate that parenteral nutrition could be administered effectively and safely with good clinical outcomes in the hospitalized patient and in the patient on home parenteral nutrition.
“Throughout his amazing career, Dr. Steiger has been at the forefront of advancing the science and practice of nutrition support through his own efforts and by mentoring others. He established new standards in patient care, gave meaning to the importance of a multidisciplinary nutrition support team, significantly elevated the role of dietitians, and supported the careers of clinicians who became experts in nutrition support,” said Board Director, Cindy Hamilton, MS, RD, LD, FAND.
Dr. Steiger joined the general surgery staff at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in 1975 after serving two years as a general surgeon in the U.S. Air Force. He then quickly began establishing new concepts in patient care by starting the Clinic’s Nutrition Support Team, its Home Parenteral Nutrition Program, and in 2001, its Intestinal Rehabilitation Program, now known as the Center for Gut Rehabilitation and Transplantation. The Clinic’s Nutrition Support Team is among the largest in the country and, per day, serves an average of 35 hospitalized patients, more than 300 home parenteral nutrition patients, and over 400 patients at the Center for Gut Rehabilitation and Intestinal Transplantation.
A graduate of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Dr. Steiger spent his surgical internship and residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania working with Drs. Dudrick, Wilmore, Vars, and Rhoads amid the burgeoning science of intravenous feeding and surgical nutrition. Then and there, he quickly made his own contributions to nutrition research by developing a rat model for intravenous feeding and studying its effectiveness in patients with various disease states and conditions.
There were many challenges in establishing new concepts in patient care programs, recalled Dr. Steiger. “We had to demonstrate that we were cost-conscious and cost-effective, that we improved patient care, that we met clinical needs and helped shoulder the management challenges of those departments that asked for a consultation from us, and that we were productive academically.”
Dr. Steiger went against organizational traditions by forming multidisciplinary teams that included nurses, pharmacists, dietitians, and psychiatrists. He recognized the skills and latent talent that dietitians brought to the team and greatly expanded their role in direct patient care. Team members were active participants in bedside rounds. They were taught to monitor patients and enabled to make recommendations for protein and calorie intake, adjust formulas, and design solutions.
In 1998, Dr. Steiger was given the rare distinction of being named an Honorary Member of the American Dietetic Association.
“Dr. Steiger inspires all who have had the privilege of working with him to never be satisfied with the status quo, to ask questions, and to seek new solutions—all with the aim of improving patient care,” said ASPEN’s 45th President Gail A. Cresci, PhD, RD, LD.
Dr. Steiger’s research and leadership have helped ensure the safety of prolonged venous access for HPN patients, advanced the practice of intestinal rehabilitation and transplant, and showed the benefits of reduced lipid infusions to minimize the incidence of liver pathology in the long-term patient. He has shared his findings in several hundred published journal articles, book chapters, and manuals.
His dedicated and continuous service to ASPEN includes his term as president in 1984, service on more than a dozen committees, his work on the editorial board of the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, and his chairmanship of ASPEN’s annual conference. It was during Dr. Steiger’s leadership that ASPEN first published its Standards for Nutrition Support and Standards of Practice and formed the independent National Board for Nutrition Support Certification.
Dr. Steiger cherishes the honor of having been selected to present ASPEN’s Rhoads Research Lecture in 2007 and is currently serving as an emeritus board member of the ASPEN Rhoads Research Foundation. He was made a fellow of ASPEN in 2012 and a fellow of the American Gastroenterology Association in 2013.
“His most lasting contribution may well be his willingness to share his knowledge and insights with his colleagues and fellow ASPEN members,” said Ryan T. Hurt, MD, PhD, ASPEN President-Elect. “Dr. Steiger’s breadth of knowledge and his compassion are equally inspiring to researchers and clinicians alike. He challenges us all to ask more, do more.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony will be streamed live for those unable to attend the conference. Please share a short personal message, picture, or video for Dr. Steiger on our Kudoboard.