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Stier Lecture in Medicine

The Robert F. E. Stier Memorial Lecture in Medicine was presented this year by Dr. Jim O’Connell (pictured), president and founder of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.

Jim O'ConnellDr. O’Connell shared the story of how he transitioned from the role of Chief Internal Medicine resident at Mass General Hospital to the country’s first street doctor for those experiencing homelessness. Recounting his 35 years of serving Boston’s most vulnerable population, Dr. O’Connell showcased the history of homelessness and the undue burden of co-occurring medical, psychiatric, and substance use disorders among chronically homeless persons. Most importantly, Dr. O’Connell reflected on the many lessons he’s learned while caring for his patients.


Heather Byrd
Events, Development & Community Relations

Watch the presentations:

Medicine in the Streets: A Team-based Approach to Caring for Boston’s Rough Sleepers

Rethinking Homelessness, Health, and Housing: A View From the Streets

The purpose of the Stier lecture is to feature key leaders in medicine whose works have increased professional and public understanding of new technologies and challenging issues. The lectures began in 1996 and are funded by an endowment established by Alton R. Stier, M.D., and Robert A. (Bud) Stier, M.D., in honor of their father, Robert F.E. Stier, a co-founder of HollisterStier pharmaceutical manufacturing that began in Spokane in 1921.

About Robert F.E. Stier, Spokane physician, businessman

In 1921, Dr. Robert F. E. Stier and Guy Hollister started the first clinical laboratory in Spokane outside of the hospitals and prepared their first batch of allergy medicine. The company grew into the international HollisterStier pharmaceutical manufacturing company that still has a division in Spokane.

Stier also was the pathologist at St. Luke’s Hospital in Spokane and had developed an extensive service area for lab and tissue pathology services in eastern Washington, Idaho, eastern Oregon, western Montana and British Columbia. Stier and Hollister added sales of allergy products to the regional service area, and the company eventually expanded its territory nationally and internationally until Hollister Stier Laboratories became the largest allergen manufacturer in the world.

Stier also started one of the earliest postgraduate education programs in the region. Teaching bacteriology and pathology to nursing students and interns at St. Luke’s Hospital expanded to many years of teaching bacteriology at Gonzaga University. He also lectured at Whitworth University, Eastern Washington University, and Washington State University in Spokane.

In 1955, Hollister Stier became a subsidiary of Cutter Laboratories, and thus began a series of mergers and acquisitions. In 2017, the Hollister Stier pharmaceutical manufacturing division in Spokane is owned by Jubiliant Life Sciences headquartered in India.

Robert F. E. Stier’s influence in the community extended to medical practice, teaching, and business that helped to make Spokane the medical and educational center that we find today. His two sons – Robert A. and Alton R. Stier – both became physicians and businessmen in Spokane and joined together to honor their father with the Robert F.E. Stier Lecture in Medicine at WSU Spokane. Lectures began in 1996 with the purpose of featuring key leaders in medicine whose works have increased professional and public understanding of new technologies and challenging issues.