A Giant of Medicine

At a meeting on cardiovascular disease epidemiology and nutrition, I was fortunate to hear a lecture by Dr.  Jeremiah Stamler, a pioneer in research connecting diet with cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Jeremiah Stamler

Photo credit: JAMA/Jim Ziv

Dr. Stamler, now 90 years old, is a diminutive man who became a giant in medicine. He was among the first to research and champion the idea that the societial impact of cardiovascular disease can be halted by preventive medicine, a field that he essentially invented.

He gave a fascinating talk on the Mediterranean eating style, a diet that appears to be effective in preventing heart disease. Sadly, in the 30 years since the association was noticed, Italians and Greeks appear to be learning some bad habits from Americans.

Although somewhat frail and walking with a cane (the consequence of joint damage from running track during his younger years, according to former employee Laura Newman), Dr. Stamler is still sharp as a tack. He’s the recent recipient of a brand new R01 research grant from the National Institutes of Health, and he’s just applied for another. He opened his talk by observing, “When Mozart was my age, he’d been dead for 50 years.”

The next day Dr. Stamler presided over a session including talks by five young investigators presenting their research and competing for the Jeremiah and Rose Stamler Research Awards for New Investigators. I found it inspirational to watch him listen to those talks, taking copious notes, and asking insightful questions of each speaker.

Dr, Stamler is clearly not just an advocate for preventive medicine. He’s a living advertisement for its efficacy.

I think I’ll have pasta e fagioli and one glass of red wine for dinner.

—Bob Finn (on Twitter @bobfinn)
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1 Comment

Filed under Cardiovascular Medicine, IMNG

One response to “A Giant of Medicine

  1. mzoler

    I first heard and saw Jeremiah Stamler while covering the same “Epi” meeting more than 20 years ago. Hearing his foghorn voice emanating from his small frame made an indelible impression. Notable among his wide-ranging work on cardiovascular disease epidemiology has been his association with two landmark studies, the observational Western Electric study, and the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, aka MRFIT. Since I first saw him, I’ve always thought of Jeremiah Stamler as Mister Fit.

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