2018 Hall of Fame inductee Sheldon “Shelly” Steiner was born in the Bronx, N.Y., and received his B.A. from Drew University and his Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Kentucky in 1967. His post-doctoral studies were performed in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Lester in the UK Department of Biochemistry.
Steiner joined the Department of Virology and Epidemiology, Baylor College of Medicine, in 1971 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 1976. In 1975, he was an invited visiting professor at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung. Steiner returned to the University of Kentucky as an associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences (subsequently renamed the Department of Biology) in 1978 and was promoted to professor in 1983. He was chair of the Department of Biology from 2005 to 2008 and served as associate chair from 2008 to 2009.
Steiner’s more recent research focused on two major areas: development of methods to inhibit cancer growth and the role of specific bioactive lipids in inflammation and differentiation. The results of these studies included the development of a modified enzyme for the treatment of melanomas and hepatocellular carcinomas. This same reagent was also shown to be an effective therapy in a model of inflammatory bowel disease. Steiner’s research studies were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the American Cancer Society.
In addition to his research efforts, Steiner was active in all aspects of teaching and service. One highlight of his teaching efforts was being selected to the Top Ten Teachers list in Arts and Sciences for multiple years. This award was based on the identification, by graduating A&S seniors, of the faculty who most influenced their collegiate careers. Mentoring students has always been a priority for Steiner, and he helped to launch the career of students including Dr. Geoffrey Manley, Ph.D., who is Professor in Residence and Vice Chairman of Neurological Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco.
Steiner’s service to UK includes membership in diverse committees including member and chair of the A&S Council, University Committee on Academic Planning and Priorities; election to the UK Faculty Senate, UK Senate Council, and the University Presidential Search Committee; and recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Senator Award.
Steiner currently lives in Lexington with his wife, Marion, who was also a well-funded scientist and professor at UK in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Molecular Genetics, without whom very little of the above would have been possible.