Obituary: Robert M. Senior, MD, Professor Emeritus of Medicine


Dear colleagues,

I am sad to inform you that one of our distinguished colleagues and friends, Dr.  Robert M. Senior, MD, a highly regarded physician-scientist, and professor emeritus of medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, died peacefully yesterday at his home in St. Louis, surrounded by his family. 

Dr. Senior earned his undergraduate degree from Oberlin College and went to Medical School at George Washington University School of Medicine. He did his internship and first year of medical residency at Barnes Hospital and was a senior resident at Jewish Hospital of St. Louis. After his residency, he pursued postdoctoral research at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. After his fellowship, Dr. Senior served as chief of the pulmonary function laboratory and assistant chief of the pulmonary and communicable disease service at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. From 1966-69, he served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and was promoted to major.

In 1969, Dr. Senior returned to St. Louis and served as the director of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at Jewish Hospital and also interim physician-in-chief and director of the Department of Medicine at Jewish Hospital from 1989-90. Dr. Senior also served as a pulmonary consultant at the John Cochran Veterans Administration Medical Center and was an attending physician at Barnes, Jewish and Barnes-Jewish Hospitals for more than 40 years. Dr. Senior had a long and distinguished career at Washington University as professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and as professor of cell biology & physiology.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to the field of pulmonary medicine, he received an endowed professorship, the Dorothy R. and Hubert C. Moog Professor of Pulmonary Diseases in Medicine, a position he held until he retired in 2015.

Dr. Senior served as a past vice president of the American Thoracic Society, was an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation. He received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Thoracic Society, the Distinguished Service Award from Washington University’s Medical Center Alumni Association, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Washington University, among other honors. Dr. Senior also received the Daniel P. Schuster Award for Distinguished Work in Clinical and Translational Science. The Robert M. Senior, MD, Award was established by the pulmonary fellows at Washington University to recognize the outstanding attending physician of the year.

“Bob Senior was a prince of a person inside and outside of work,” said Michael J. Holtzman, MD, the Selma, and Herman Seldin Professor of Medicine. “He was a truly selfless and remarkable human being and a world-class physician-scientist as well.”  

He is survived by his wife, Martha Senior, his daughters Jocelyn and Rebecca Senior, Debra Bram, and his son David Senior.

A visitation will be held on Sunday June 11, 2023, at 11:00 am, followed by a funeral service at 11:30 am at United Hebrew Congregation, 13788 Conway Road, St Louis, MO 63141. Dr. Senior will be missed by many. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers at this sad time.  Please feel free to forward this message to those outside the department who knew Dr. Senior.