In Memoriam: Steve Lieber
March 31, 2020

Dear Friends,

I am deeply sad and heartbroken that our patron saint, our heroic founder and best friend, Steve Lieber passed away on Monday morning. Steve had been suffering from difficulty breathing for the past two weeks, which though seemingly stable, was increasingly taking its toll. I had been on the phone with him literally every day trying to help find a solution, as had his family and Herb Pardes. He was being treated for heart failure, but the possibility of Covid19 was real. His housekeeper tested positive two weeks ago and had stopped coming to his house at that point. The past three years had been very challenging for Steve, with the tragic losses of his wife, Connie, and then his son, Sam, the maintenance of a business that he created and had hoped to leave to the next generation, continued support for his daughter, Janice, and the reality of loneliness.

Steve Lieber, along with his wife, Connie, were inspirational to two generations of scientists and clinicians interested in pursuing careers in research to better understand the causes and consequences of serious mental illness. They were responsible for more support of mental illness research over the past thirty years than any other individuals on this planet. They sustained and directed the Brain and Behavioral Foundation (formerly NARSAD) for thirty years, the single most generative effort in support of mental illness research beyond the NIH. They created with the Maltz family, the Lieber Institute for Brain Development and the Maltz Research Laboratories, the first translational research institute devoted exclusively to understanding the developmental origins of serious mental illness. Steve’s vision and contributions are immeasurable. I spoke with him literally every week for the past 11 years. I visited with him at his house every few months. He had become not just an advisor and benefactor, but a personal friend and confidant.

Steve Lieber impact goes far beyond his historic philanthropy. While a profoundly intelligent man, a fountain of ideas and inspiration, Steve was more than anything, a caring, decent, humble, generous, and loving person. His devotion to matters other than himself was limitless and he represented the best of what anyone could aspire to. Steve’s passion, along with Connie’s, was to “get to the bottom of what causes schizophrenia” and related developmental brain disorders. He walked the walk every day in pursuit of this goal.

There is so much more to say about this man and his life, which we will put together as a memorial in the coming days. What he would want now is for the Lieber Institute to keep on its march, to keep the spirit and purpose of what he and Connie created moving forward with more momentum than ever. The Lieber Institute for Brain Development and the Maltz Research Laboratories, like the rest of the country, is facing challenges and opportunities. For Steve Lieber, for Connie and Sam, and the rest of his family, we are committed to carrying the baton he passed to us to realize our birthright. Our thoughts and our hearts go out to the Lieber family in this time of mourning.

With respect,

Daniel R. Weinberger, M.D.
Director and CEO, Lieber Institute for Brain Development
Professor, Departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, Neuroscience and Genetic Medicine
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine