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Jonathan S. Stamler

  • Born: June 23, 1959, Wallingford, UK

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0498
Interview Date: 16-18 October 2000
Location: Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
Interviewer: Helene L. Cohen
No. of pages: 119
Minutes: 202
Sponsor: The Pew Charitable Trusts
The Pew Charitable Trusts

  Abstract of Interview

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 first to Belgium and then to the United States.  While Stamler’s father was on a Fulbright to Brandeis and Harvard 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 Jonathan was leaving for college, his family moved to Miami and then to New York City.


Jonathan was, by his own admission, no student, but he played tennis, selected for the national junior team in Israel and playing in the Davis Cup.  Failing eleventh grade, he was told he could be graduated only if he promised not to go on to higher education.  Of course, this was in Israel, and so Jonathan’s father got Jonathan into Brandeis, where Jonathan wanted only to play tennis.  Freshman hazing injured a hand badly and he lost a year of tennis.  He decided that the only way to pass the time was to study, so 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 and to doing research, Stamler had co-founded a private company that was making much money for Harvard, but Duke University recruited him away.  At Duke, 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.

  Education

1981 B.A. Brandeis University
1985 M.D. Mount Sinai School of Medicine

  Professional Experience

Harvard Medical School

1992

Instructor of Medicine

Harvard Medical School

1993

Assistant Professor in Medicine

Duke University

1993 - 1995

Associate Professor in Medicine and Assistant Professor of
Cell Biology

Duke University

1995

Adjunct Faculty Member of Toxicology

Duke University

1996 - Present

Professor of Medicine

Duke University

1999 - Present

Professor of Biochemistry

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

1997 - Present

Associate Investigator

  Honors

1993 - 1997

Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences

1997

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Associate Investigator

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Early Years 1

Family background.  Stamler's early memories of school.  His family's move to Israel; adjusting to life in Herzliyah Pituah, Israel.  Memories of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.  His interest in tennis.  Academic difficulties in his last year of high school.

College Years 23

Stamler's uncertainty about his future after high school.  Enrolls at Brandeis University.  His transition from tennis to medical school.  Impact of religion.  Experiences at Brandeis.

Medical School Years 30

Enrolls at Mount Sinai School of Medicine Medical School.  An influential teacher.  Residency and internship at Brigham and Women's Hospital at Harvard University Medical School.  An article on free radicals spurs his interest in research into nitric oxide.  Receives his clinical and research training in cardiology and in pulmonology at separate institutions.  Meets his wife, Cathy
L. Stamler.  Problems in the cardiovascular department lead him to found his own company.  Sets up his own laboratory.

Years at Duke University 49

Accepts a position as associate professor at Duke University.  Achieves tenure in two years. Stamler's reasons for pursuing laboratory research.  Teaching responsibilities.  Discrimination in Durham and academia generally.  Ethnic makeup of the student body at Duke University.  Gender discrimination in science.  Writing grants.  Funding.  Publishing.  Travel and committee responsibilities.  Balancing family and career.

Current Work 86

Genesis of Stamler's current research on nitric oxide.   Applications and uses of nitric oxide.  Discussion of patents.  Competition and collaboration.  Importance of having both good ideas and accurate data.  Ethical issues in science.  Stamler assesses his progress up to the present.  

Index 117

  About the Interviewer

Helene L. Cohen

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