Melvin B. Kirstein. M.D. Centennial December 29, 1910 – December 29, 2010

Dr Melvin Byron Kirstein was born December 29, 1910 in Chicago. His family moved to Indiana Harbor, Indiana. He graduated from East Chicago High School in Indiana in 1927 according to a year inscribed on his high-school ring.

He attended Indiana University where he received his B.A. and M.D. degrees. He was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha, a medical honorary society.

He moved to St Louis, Missouri and was an adjunct clinical assistant professor at the Washington University School of Medicine for over thirty-years. He was an internist associated with Washington University School of Medicine and hospitals.


His greatest accomplishment was his brilliance as an investigator.  He co-wrote with Michael Somogyi, Melvin B. Kirstein, “Insulin as a Cause of Extreme Hyperglycemia and Instability,” Bulletin of the St Louis Medical Society 32:498-503, 1938. Michael Somogyi, Ph.D., was the lead investigator as the article broke new ground in the diagnosis and observation of diabetes mellitus. It established the Somogyi Effect, a significant moment in the treatment of this epidemic disease.

During World War II, a war without mercy whose means including atomic genocide did not justify the ends sought, he served from August 6, 1942-August 10, 1946 in the army. He was in combat as a medical officer to heal the wounded in the Aleutian Islands with the 37th Infantry on the windswept island of Attu. He was in Alaska, then a territory of the United States, from 5 Nov 42-30 Oct 43. He was a captain.

He was medical director of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (I.L.G.W.U.) medical center in St Louis on Lindell Boulevard. As textile workers increasingly were displaced by outsourcing in developing nations, their unions and their jobs were destroyed.

Dr Kirstein was always eager to debate his Republican in-laws and friends. He was considered by some as ultra progressive for his tine. He would coach his progeny to go to school and debate classmates who were resistant to the so-called liberalism of the day. While he was an active Democrat, he did vote once for the great socialist Norman Thomas I believe in 1948. He was one of 139,569 Americans to vote for Mr Thomas.

He died in St Louis on January 25, 1979 at the age of 68 from a heart attack.

Peter Neil Kirstein, his son, finishing exultantly in St Xavier 5k, October 2010

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