Obituary: J. Russell Little MD, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, 87

August 21, 2018

J. Russell Little, MD, emeritus Professor of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and former Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Jewish Hospital of St. Louis died Aug. 18, 2018, in St. Louis following a long illness. He was 87.

Russ Little first came to Washington University in 1957 as a Resident in Medicine at Barnes Hospital, having obtained his MD from the University of Rochester. After a brief research appointment at the National Institutes of Health, he returned to St. Louis in 1961 to be Chief Resident at Barnes Hospital, and completed a fellowship in the Department of Microbiology at Washington University in 1964. He then joined the faculty of the School of Medicine, and was appointed Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Jewish Hospital of St. Louis in 1967, a position he held until the merger of Jewish Hospital and Barnes Hospital in 1996. He retired in 2005, with Professor Emeritus status.

Dr. Little had a distinguished investigative career in immunology, supported continually by grants from the National Institutes for Health. His characterization of antibody structure and hapten binding in the 1960’s and early 1970’s presaged the development of monoclonal antibodies. His investigative interests in immunology merged with his clinical interests in infectious diseases in elegant descriptions of the immunomodulation effects of Amphotericin B and the biochemistry of Histoplasma infection of macrophages.

Dr. Little made significant contributions to Washington University and Jewish Hospital. He served both institutions on committees, as acting chair of the Department of Medicine at Jewish Hospital and in many advisory roles. In addition, he was a superb clinician and teacher and exemplified a caring attitude that made students, house officers, and most importantly, patients feel completely at ease and reassured in his presence.” He was the supreme role-model of the caring physician, teacher and scientist” said Victoria J. Fraser, MD, the Adolphus Busch Professor and head of the Department of Medicine. Added Bill Powderly, MD, the Dr. J. William Campbell Professor of Medicine and co-director of the university’s Division of Infectious Diseases: “Russ was a teacher and mentor to generations of ID trainees at Washington University; his compassion and expertise were remarkable and he was a significant reason why the ID program here is one of the best in the country.” The Division established the J. Russell Little Award for Excellence in Teaching in his honor.

Dr. Little served on the editorial boards of Molecular Immunology and The Journal of Immunology and had been honored with numerous awards including membership in Alpha Omega Alpha and the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and Fellowship in the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

He is survived by his daughters Nancy and Susan and son Bryan; and grandchildren Kevin and Lauren Bower and Wanda and Helen Little.

Funeral services at the ORTMANN STIPANOVICH Funeral Home, 12444 Olive Blvd., Creve Coeur, Thu. Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. with visitation from 5 p.m. until time of service.

Memorial contributions and tributes in honor of Dr. J. Russell Little may be sent to support the Division of Infectious Diseases to:

Washington University in St. Louis
Division of Infectious Diseases #3054-90991
Attn: Rachel Hartmann
Campus Box 1247
7425 Forsyth Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63105