School of Medicine

Obituary: Michael J. Noetzel, professor of neurology, 70


Michael J. Noetzel, MD, a leading pediatric stroke researcher at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, died of heart failure on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022, at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He was 70.

Noetzel, a professor of neurology and of pediatrics, was a respected clinician, researcher, teacher and administrator. He spent his entire 45-year career at Washington University and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. He had planned to officially retire this July but intended to continue contributing to the field of pediatric neurology. He was scheduled to teach as an emeritus professor in the fall and was partway through a five-year term on the International Pediatric Stroke Study Publications Committee.

“Dr. Michael Noetzel was a compassionate physician, dedicated scholar, sage administrator and beloved educator,” said Jin-Moo Lee, MD, PhD, the Andrew B. and Gretchen P. Jones Professor and head of the Department of Neurology. “He devoted his life to the training of generations of pediatric neurologists and was often thought of as a father figure in his role as mentor. He had an understated dignity that both put people at ease and earned their respect. He will be dearly missed.”

Noetzel was best known for his research involving strokes in children, especially so-called silent strokes that often go unnoticed by parents and doctors. He played an important role in several major clinical trials, including the Diabetes Control and Complication Trial, and Silent Cerebral Infarct Multi-Center Clinical Trial, which focused on sickle cell disease. Both studies resulted in landmark publications in The New England Journal of Medicine and guide the management of these diseases today. Most recently, he published a paper on strokes in children linked to infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.

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