Steitz started an assistant professorship at the University of California, Berkeley, but soon resigned, on the grounds that the institution would not accept his wife Joan into a faculty position because she was a woman.
Both Tom and Joan Steitz joined the Yale faculty in 1970, where he continued to work on cellular and structural biology. Steitz and Peter Moore determined the atomic structure of the large 50S ribosomal subunit using X-ray crystallography, and published their findings in Science in 2000. In 2009, Steitz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his ribosome research.
Steitz was married to Joan A. Steitz, a distinguished molecular biologist who is also a Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale. He lived with her in Branford, Connecticut and had one son, Jon. He died on October 9, 2018 of complications during treatment of pancreatic cancer.
^Steitz, T. A. and Lipscomb, W. N., "Molecular Structure of Methyl Ethylene Phosphate," J Am. Chem. Soc. 87, 2488 (1965).
^Hartsuck JA, Ludwig ML, Muirhead H, Steitz TA, Lipscomb WN. Carbyxypeptidase A, II, The Three-dimensional Electron Density Map at 6 A Resolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1965 February; 53(2): 396–403.
^Lipscomb, W. N., Coppola, J. C., Hartsuck, J. A., Ludwig, M. L., Muirhead, H., Searl, J. and Steitz, T. A., "The Structure of Carboxypeptidase A. III. Molecular Structure at 6 A Resolution," J Mol. Biol. 19, 423-441 (1966).
^Ludwig, M. L., Coppola, J. C., Hartsuck, J. A., Muirhead, H., Searl, J., Steitz, T. A. and Lipscomb, W. N., "Molecular Structure of Carboxypeptidase A at 6 A Resolution," Federation Proc. 25, Part I, 346 (1966).
^Ludwig ML, Hartsuck JA, Steitz TA, Muirhead H, Coppola JC, Reeke GN, Lipscomb WN. The Structure of Carboxypeptidase A, IV. Prelimitary Results at 2.8 A Resolution, and a Substrate Complex at 6 A Resolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1967 March; 57(3): 511–514.
^Reeke GN, Hartsuck JA, Ludwig ML, Quiocho FA, Steitz TA, Lipscomb WN. The structure of carboxypeptidase A. VI. Some Results at 2.0-A Resolution, and the Complex with Glycyl-Tyrosine at 2.8-A Resolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1967 Dec;58(6):2220–2226.
^Lipscomb, W. N, Ludwig, M. L., Hartsuck, J. A., Steitz, T. A., Muirhead, H., Coppola, J. C., Reeke, G. N. and Quiocho, F. A., "Molecular Structure of Carboxypeptidase A at 2.8 A Resolution and an Isomorphous Enzyme-Substrate Complex at 6 A Resolution," Federation Proc. 26, 385 (1967).
^Lipscomb WN, Hartsuck JA, Reeke GN, Jr, Quiocho FA, Bethge PH, Ludwig ML, Steitz TA, Muirhead H, Coppola JC. The structure of carboxypeptidase A. VII. The 2.0-angstrom resolution studies of the enzyme and of its complex with glycyltyrosine, and mechanistic deductions. Brookhaven Symp Biol. 1968 Jun;21(1):24–90.
^Coppola, J. C., Hartsuck, J. A., Ludwig, M. L., Muirhead, H., Searl, J., Steitz, T. A. and Lipscomb, W. N., "The Low Resolution Structure of Carboxypeptidase A," Acta Crystallogr. 21, A160 (1966).
^Steitz TA, Wiley DC, Lipscomb WN. The structure of aspartate transcarbamylase, I. A molecular twofold axis in the complex with cytidine triphosphate. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1967 November; 58(5): 1859–1861.