Jeremiah Stamler

From KeyWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Jeremiah Stamler

Jeremiah Stamler, is a prominent Chicago medical researcher and activist.

He is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Stamler was born in New York City on October 27, 1919.


Stamler received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University in New York in 1940 and MD degree from the State University of New York in 1943[1]. At Columbia University, he won Phi Beta Kappa honors, and he was a member of AOA at Long Island College of Medicine.[2]

Jeremiah Stamler was active in Chicago's progressive movements from the 1940s onward and, in college, was a close friend of Arthur Kinoy, who would later be his legal defender[3].

Medical career

After an internship at Kings County Hospital (Long Island College Division) Stamler served two years in the army toward the end of World War II. He then served a fellowship in pathology with Dr. Jean Oliver at Long Island College of Medicine and, in 1948, became a research fellow with Dr. Louis N. Katz at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago. Over the next decade at Michael Reese, Stamler, Katz, and colleagues conducted pioneering experimental research on atherosclerosis and hypertension.[4]

Dr. Stamler's association with Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine began in 1958, when he joined the Department of Medicine; from 1959 to 1965 he was an Assistant Professor in the Department, becoming a full Professor in 1972. That same year Dr. Stamler was named Professor and Chair of the newly created Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine. He served as Chair until 1986, and as Professor until 1990, when he became Emeritus Professor. From 1973 to 1990 Dr. Stamler held the distinguished position of Dingman Professor of Cardiology at the Medcal School; from 1973 to 1985 he also served as Chairman of the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital[5].

Heart disease work

Beginning in the mid-1950s, Stamler pioneered the thesis that diet, most especially manifested in the overabundance of cholesterol and salt, had raised the proportions of heart conditions and fatal heart attacks in the United States. By the late 1950s, closely aided by his wife, Rose Stamler, and his nutritionist-assistant, Yolanda Hall (a longtime Chicago communist and wife of Spanish Civil War veteran Charles Hall), Stamler gained permission to test population groups such as the employees of Chicago's power and gas company. In 1958, as his scientific work gained worldwide recognition, Stamler was named to Chicago's Board of Health as director of the new Heart Disease Control Program[6].

His first significant 1949 publication was on “the effect of a low fat diet on the spontaneously occurring arteriosclerosis of the chicken.”

Throughout his career, his research concerns have been the causation and prevention of the major adult cardiovascular diseases (CVD), particularly coronary heart disease (CHD). In previous work, Dr. Stamler served in leadership capacities in numerous national and international studies -- e.g., in the Michael Reese estrogen trial, the Chicago Coronary Prevention Evaluation Program, the Coronary Drug Project, the National Diet-Heart Study, the Hypertension Detection and Follow-up Program, the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, the Hypertension Control Program, the trial on the Primary Prevention of Hypertension, trials on aspirin and dipyridamole, the Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly trial, the DASH trial on effects of dietary patterns on blood pressure, and recently, the AFCAPS/TexCAPS trial on coronary prevention with lovastatin.

Dr. Stamler's work in population-based research began in the 1950s, and continues to the present. It involves several long-term studies -- e.g., Chicago employed populations (9 cohorts encompassing about 45,000 women and men); the more than 360,000 men screened nationwide for the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial and the almost 13,000 of these men randomized into that trial; 16 cohorts worldwide studied jointly by the International Collaborative group; 4 cohorts in China under long-term study by the PRC-USA Collaborative Study on Cardiovascular and Cardiopulmonary Epidemiology; the INTERSALT Study on effects on blood pressure of dietary sodium, potassium, alcohol, protein, and other factors, as assessed in 52 adult population samples in 32 countries worldwide; the INTERMAP Study on macronutrients and blood pressure, involving 17 population samples of men and women ages 40-59 in China, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S.[7]

Professional and Pulic Service, and Public Policy

Throughout his career Dr. Stamler has been a participant in the activities of the American Heart Association (AHA) and its Chicago Affiliate. He served as Chair of the AHA Council on Arteriosclerosis, and subsequently as Chair of the AHA Council on Epidemiology and Prevention, and on many Association committees at the national and local level. He also has been active for years at the international level, as Chair of the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention of the International Society and Federation of Cardiology (ISFC), then as Chair of the ISFC Scientific Board and member of the ISFC Executive Committee, with editorial responsibilities for its publication Heart Beat.

He has served as an Editor and Editorial Board member of major journals in his areas of expertise (e.g., Atherosclerosis, Circulation, Hypertension, Journal of Chronic Diseases, Journal of Human Hypertension, Preventive Medicine). He has also served on numerous expert panels and advisory groups on public policy for prevention and control of CHD-CVD, at the national and international level, e.g., for the American Heart Association; the International Society and Federation of Cardiology; the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the World Health Organization.[8]


In addition to his decades-long role as a teacher for Northwestern University Medical School students, he developed the School's Master in Public Health program. He has lectured extensively both in the U.S. and abroad on the causes of the CHD-CVD epidemic, and approaches to its prevention and control. He was a co-founder of the Ten-Day International Teaching Seminars on Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Prevention, and served as leader of these Seminars held every year in a different country.[9]


Dr. Stamler has received many awards and honors for his work, including: the American Heart Association Award for Outstanding Efforts in Heart Research, 1964; AHA Award of Merit, 1967; AHA Service Award, 1980-81; AHA Research Achievement Award, 1981; AHA Distinguished Achievement Award, 1987; and the AHA's prestigious Gold Heart Award in 1992. The AHA also honored Dr. Stamler in 1990 when the Executive Committee of the Council in Epidemiology established the Jeremiah Stamler, MD New Investigator Award. Other significant honors include a Gold Heart Award from the Chicago Affiliate of the American Heart Association; the Donald Reid Medal from the Joint Committee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Royal College of Physicians; the National Cholesterol Award at the First National Cholesterol Conference; the James D. Bruce Memorial Award for Distinguished Contributions in Preventive Medicine from the American College of Physicians; and election to the Center for Science in the Public Interest's Nutrition Hall of Fame.[10]


In May 1965, the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities held hearings in Chicago, demanding that Jeremiah Stamler and Yolanda Hall (among other Chicagoans) testify about their radical pasts and connections.


Stamler and Hall immediately filed a civil suit, refusing to appear before the HUAC hearings in Chicago. Behind them, "an army of activists mobilized".

A unique "M.D. Defense Committee," to raise funds among doctors and professors, was set up under the imprimatur of Paul Dudley White, Dwight Eisenhower's personal physician, and a legal fund of one hundred thousand dollars raised quickly. An academic committee (including anthropologists Dell Hymes, Marvin Harris, and Oscar Lewis) set out on a parallel path, with a massive petition to Congress from scientists, clergymen, and "assorted intellectuals". The Stamler Defense also managed to secure the assistance of Attorney Albert Jenner, a prominent and ostensibly conservative Chicago Republican with civil liberties leanings.

New York Civil Liberties Union lawyer Jerry Gutman joined the Stamler legal team.

An unprecedented five-hour debate in the House prompted the most open opposition to HUAC in that body in almost twenty years . The procedures and the legitimacy of the Committee were interrogated. More than a hundred House members expressed disenchantment with HUAC, including John Conyers), who voted against the Contempt citations.

Several "victims" of the Hollywood Blacklist, local media figures (such as Studs Terkel), and a host of artists (including Rudolf Baranik, Alexander Calder, Jules Feiffer, Harry Gottlieb, David Levine, Louis Lozowick, Larry Rivers, Moses Soyer and Raphael Soyer, who donated work to be sold at a prestigious auction in Chicago.

Talcott Parsons and Seymour Martin Lipset (at that very moment, a chief antagonist of the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley), also added their names to the lists of supporters[11].

After four years of public meetings, petitions, lobbying, legal research work, and press conferences, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the challenge to the Committee's constitutionality was indeed appropriate for trial. It was, as Kinoy later put it, "no surprise" that the government dropped the contempt indictments in 1973 rather than face an open trial".

Federal Judge Howard Corcoran pronounced, that HUAC had no practical right to proceed at all. A hastily convened seven-judge appellate panel ruled overnight that Corcoran was wrong and that HUAC would continue. But the Committee was put on notice and remained on the run during its final era. In 1974, a weakened and badly discredited HUAC was formally abolished by Congress[12].

Secret communist

One group of secret Communists in the United States was led by Arthur Kinoy, a radical lawyer who ended his long career as a distinguished professor at Rutgers Law School, and included Dr. Jeremiah Stamler, a pioneering cardiologist at Northwestern Medical School, whose lawsuit marked one of the first successful challenges to the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). And Stanley Levison, a key aide and supporter of Martin Luther King, Jr.. [13]