#RespectYourElders: Jeremiah Stamler, MD, 100, is a researcher at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a trailblazing scientist specializing in cardiology. He’s considered by many to be the “father of preventive cardiology.”
Stamler was born to Russian immigrants in New York City in 1919. His parents moved the family to West Orange, New Jersey when he was six months old. At eight, Stamler proclaimed he would attend medical school and become a researcher. Stamler was true to his word.
Stamler graduated with a degree from Columbia University and went on to study at Long Island College Hospital Medical School, now known as SUNY Downstate Medical Center. After attending school, he served as a radiologist in the Army during World War II. Following an honorable discharge, he became a research associate in Chicago, where his work focused on preventing cardiovascular disease.
He developed a passion for studying and exploring the science of the heart. Stamler and his colleagues discovered that eating healthier, exercising and not smoking would reduce the risk of a heart attack. These beliefs were not common in the mid to late 20th century, but Stamler helped bring the truth into the mainstream. He also uncovered the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for improved cardiac health, which included foods such as fish, olive oil, nuts, vegetables and more.
“The idea is not to go on a diet, but to improve your eating style by emphasizing and de-emphasizing, gradually creating a modified pattern that is an enjoyable part of your life,” Stamler once said in an interview with The New York Times.
In 1972, Stamler became the founding chairman of Northwestern’s Department of Preventive Medicine. He’s authored and co-authored over 1,100 publications and has been cited over 25,000 times for his work on diet, diabetes, cholesterol and more.
The National Institute of Health recently awarded Stamler and his team of about 20 researchers roughly half a million dollars to investigate how diet, environment and DNA determine one’s blood pressure.
Recently, Northwestern hosted a scientific symposium followed by a dinner and personal tributes to honor Stamler’s 100th birthday. Scientists from across the U.S. gathered to speak on his impact, legacy and the future of cardiovascular research.
At 100 years old, Stamler still brings heart to doing what he loves.