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March 30, 2022

In Memoriam: Jeremiah Stamler, MD, 1919-2022

Author Affiliations
  • 1Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
  • 2Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA Cardiol. 2022;7(5):481-483. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2022.0296

Jeremiah Stamler, MD, was a pioneer and champion of preventive cardiology, a fighter for civil liberties, a prodigious researcher, teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend to thousands.

Dating back to the 1940s as a young physician, Dr Stamler recognized that the mass epidemic of coronary heart disease could only be explained by mass exposures in the population. He hypothesized that those mass exposures included adverse dietary habits of modern life, including excessive fat and salt, insufficient levels of regular exercise, overweight and obesity, and cigarette smoking, that were highly prevalent in the 1940s and 1950s, and remain a worldwide problem today. His work over more than 75 years was directed at understanding those risks and promoting efforts to control and prevent the risk factors from developing in the first place. His work overcame criticisms that included “it’s all in the genes” and “it’s just an inevitable consequence of aging.” His response to these criticisms harkened back to a quote from the well-known diabetologist, Elliott Joslin, MD, who famously said that “genetics loads the gun but environment pulls the trigger.”1(p230)

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