Oral history interview with Jonathan S. Stamler
- 2000-Oct-16 – 2000-Oct-18
Jonathan S. Stamler, the oldest of four children, was born and spent his first eleven years in Wallingford, near Oxford, England. His father's family had escaped to England before the start of World War II, and his mother's family fled first to Belgium and then to the United States. While Stamler's father was on a Fulbright to Brandeis and Harvard universities he met Stamler's mother, and they married and moved back to England. Stamler's father founded a Zionist-oriented college, called Carmel College, and the family lived in England until Jonathan was about eleven. Then they moved to Israel, where the senior Stamler worked for a wealthy Iranian. At about the time he was leaving for college, his family moved to Miami and then to New York City. Stamler was, by his own admission, an unenthusiastic student, but he played tennis, was selected for the national junior team in Israel and played in the Davis Cup. Despite academic challenges in his junior and senior years of high school, Stamler was accepted at Brandeis University, where he wanted only to continue his tennis career. After a freshman hazing incident left him with a bad hand injury, he lost a year of tennis. He decided that the only way to pass the time was to study, and by his sophomore year he was pre-med. He finished Phi Beta Kappa. He wanted to be in New York City, so he applied and was accepted to Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. He found his preceptor, Ray Matta, a superb clinician and cardiologist, one who inspired Stamler to go into cardiology himself. While doing his residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital, he read about free radicals and started doing research on them in his own time. Eventually he came upon nitric oxide, which is still his area of interest. He was denied a cardiology fellowship, but Roland Ingram, chief of pulmonary at Brigham gave him one and said he could use it in cardiology. He also got a cardiology fellowship from West Roxbury VA Hospital, so he spent four years doing two fellowships. During that time he married, and he and his wife had two children. In addition to being an assistant professor at Harvard and to doing research, Stamler co-founded a private company. He was recruited by Duke University, where he has appointments in both pulmonary and cardiology; he received tenure in two years. He has always sought answers to things that puzzle him, and he found that research was the place for him, not the clinic. He continues to work with nitric oxide, to write grants, to publish, and to attempt to balance his career with his family life.
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