Jeremiah Stamler, who found ways to curb heart disease, dies at 102

A third study, started about 30 years ago and still ongoing, looks at dietary factors in addition to salt, such as animal protein, that contribute to high blood pressure.

“I remember that there was criticism that he was an older man in his seventies and that he could complete the five years of the project,” said Dr. Philip Greenland, a professor in Northwestern’s division of preventive medicine, in an interview. “Then he had multiple extensions of the grant application and at the last extension he was 95 years old.”

Jeremiah Stamler was born on October 27, 1919 in Brooklyn and grew up in West Orange, New Jersey. His parents – George Stamler, a dentist, and Rose (Baras) Stamler, a teacher – had emigrated from Russia.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University, he received his medical degree from Long Island College of Medicine (now SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University) in Brooklyn in 1943 and did an internship at Kings County Hospital Center, also in Brooklyn. He served in the Army in Bermuda as a radiologist before starting his career at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, where he worked with Dr. Louis Katz, a top researcher in cardiology.

“Dr. Katz told me, ‘Why the hell do you want to do research?’” Dr. Stamler to The Tribune. ‘You never win. When you first discover something, people will say, “I don’t believe it.” Then you do more research and verify and they’ll say, “Yeah, but. …” Then you do more research, verify further, and they’ll say, ‘I knew all along.'” And he was right.”

In the late 1950s, Dr. Stamler joins both the Chicago Board of Health and Northwestern as a part-time assistant professor of medicine. In 1965, while director of the council’s heart disease control program, he was subpoenaed to testify by the House Un-American Activities Committee. He was accused of being part of an underground communist party in the 1950s and refused to testify or pass the Fifth Amendment, as many other witnesses did. Instead, he issued a statement saying he was a loyal American.

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