Rhode Island Man Earns Ph.D. In Physics — At 89

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — An 89-year-old Rhode Island man has achieved a goal he spent two decades working toward and nearly a lifetime thinking about — earning his Ph.D. and becoming a physicist.

Manfred Steiner recently defended his dissertation successfully at Brown University in Providence. Steiner cherishes this degree because it’s what he always wanted — and because he overcame health problems that could have derailed his studies.

“But I made it, and this was the most gratifying point in my life, to finish it,” he said Wednesday at his home in East Providence.

As a teenager in Vienna, Steiner was inspired to become a physicist after reading about Albert Einstein and Max Planck. He admired the precision of physics.

But after World War II, his mother and uncle advised him that studying medicine would be a better choice in turbulent times. He earned his medical degree from the University of Vienna in 1955 and moved to the United States just a few weeks later, where he had a successful career studying blood and blood disorders.

Steiner studied hematology at Tufts University and biochemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before becoming a hematologist at Brown University. He became a full professor and led the hematology section of the medical school at Brown from 1985 to 1994.

Steiner helped establish a research program in hematology at the University of North Carolina, which he directed until he retired from medicine in 2000 and returned to Rhode Island.

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