It is with great sadness that I share news with you that Michael J. Noetzel, MD, Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St, Louis, Missouri, died after a brief illness on February 20, 2022, just a few months before his planned retirement and weeks after learning that he was to receive the Roger and Mary Brumback Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award at the 51st CNS Annual Meeting this fall. Dr. Noetzel will be honored posthumously in Cincinnati.
Dr. Noetzel graduated from St. Ignatius High School in 1969, then went on to earn his AB Degree in History at Yale University (1973). After receiving his MD degree at The University of Virginia (1977), he moved to St. Louis, Missouri to begin his lifelong career at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Barnes-Jewish- Christian Hospital, and Washington University, first as a resident in Pediatrics (1977-1979) and then as a resident in Child Neurology (1979-1982). He was appointed Assistant Professor in 1983, Associate Professor in 1992, and Professor in 2002. Michael trained dozens of neurologists during his nearly 40-year tenure on faculty at Washington University. Michael was a “specialist of generalists”: his career interests included cerebral palsy, neuro-rehabilitation, autism, and brachial plexus injuries, but much of his work was in stroke, especially stroke in sickle cell anemia and diabetes mellitus. His research demonstrated the neurological and systemic benefits of diabetic control and blood transfusion therapy in sickle cell anemia. He served on countless committees and boards within the community. He served as the Medical Director of the Neurorehabilitation Program and Therapy Service from 1990-2020, then Associate Medical Director, ushering in the program’s CARF certification. He also was the Co-Director of the Pediatric Neurocritical Care Program from 2006-2017 and Chair of the Division of Pediatric and Developmental Neurology from 2007-2014; he then continued to serve as the Vice-Chair of the division. In the nomination package submitted by colleagues for the prestigious Roger & Mary Brumback Memorial Lifetime Achievement Award, he was described as “the elusive quadruple threat as a clinician, research, teacher and administrator who has unparalleled personal qualities.”
Dr. Noetzel joined the Child Neurology Society in 1982 and served on many committees including Awards, Practice, Finance (Chair 2010-2013), Legislative Affairs and Annals of Neurology Oversight. He was elected a Councillor for the Midwest and served on the Executive Committee in this role from 2001-2003. He has been described by his students and peers as an outstanding teacher, humble and compassionate physician, and a dedicated husband, father and grandfather. He was unselfish and had a quiet, understated way of making the people around him feel better about themselves. Michael will be dearly missed by all who knew him.
Information related to the family’s memorial plans and requests will be provided when they become available. A full tribute written by one of Dr. Noetzel’s colleagues will be published along with profiles of other award recipients in the Fall 2022/Annual Meeting edition of CNS Connections.
Bruce H. Cohen, MD