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History of UTHSC Cardiovascular Medicine

Many individuals have contributed to the development of Cardiovascular Medicine at UTHSC. This is a brief history of developments and key historical figures.

Initial Development of Cardiovascular Medicine at UT (1920-1968)

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Dr. Neuton Stern

The College of Medicine of the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center (UTHSC) was established in 1911 in Memphis, prior to the development of cardiovascular medicine as a sub-specialty discipline. Dr. Neuton Stern had completed his internship at Massachusetts General Hospital and trained with Sir Thomas Lewis, who developed the clinical application of the electrocardiogram. When he returned to Memphis, Dr. Stern begin to practice medicine and teach physiology. He is said to have brought the first ECG to the South and tutored physicians in the use of electrocardiograms and the developing field of cardiology. He continued teaching, attaining the rank of Clinical Professor of Medicine, until his first myocardial infarction.

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Dr. Thomas Stern

His son, Thomas Stern, attended the UT College of Medicine and Washington University School of Medical in St. Louis. He completed his residency at UT Memphis in 1950 and continued to serve on the faculty of the UT College of Medicine. Dr. Thomas Stern practiced cardiology with a special interest in preventive cardiology, and was a Clinical Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at UTHSC. Dr. Thomas Stern was recognized for outstanding teaching by the UTHSC and for inspiring public service by the Tennessee Medical Association. In 1992, Dr. Stern made a $1 million gift to the UTHSC establishing the Stern professorship in cardiovascular medicine.

Development of Cardiovascular Research and Training at UT (1968-1974)

Dr. Charles KossmannDr. Charles Kossmann was appointed Chief of the Division of Circulatory Disease in 1968 by Dr. Gene Stollerman, then Chairman of the UT Department of Medicine. Dr. Kossmann earned his BS in 1928, MD in 1931, and the Med. Sc.D. in 1938; all from New York University. Continuing an early tradition at UT, Dr. Kossmann became one of the nation’s foremost electrocardiographers. His pioneering electrophysiology research, combined with broad clinical acumen in internal medicine, made him one of the nation’s foremost educators in his subspecialty. Dr. Kossmann established a new Division of Circulatory Diseases that included Sections of Cardiology, Cardiovascular Biophysics, Nephrology, and Pulmonary Medicine. This division became one of the most productive ones within the College of Medicine. In 1968 his division received a large training grant in circulatory diseases from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, which supported the advanced graduate cardiovascular training for one or two years to 31 physicians, for a period of six years. In 1971, another large NHLBI grant to the Division helped establishing a Specialized Center of Research in Hypertension at the UT College of Medicine. The Division of Circulatory Diseases was reorganized in 1973 to include cardiovascular activities at the UTHSC affiliated institutions: the Veterans Administration Hospital, the Baptist Memorial Hospital, the Methodist Hospital, and St. Joseph’s Hospital. In 1982, Dr. Kossmann was elected Master of the American College of Physicians.

Creation and Development of the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases and Fellowship Program (1974-present)

Dr. Jay Michael SullivanIn 1974, Dr. Jay Michael Sullivan was recruited to UTHSC as Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases. Dr. Sullivan earned his bachelor and medical degrees from Georgetown University, and was valedictorian of his medical school class in 1962. He was the Director of an accredited Cardiovascular Disease Fellowship Program and maintained these responsibilities until his death in 1999. During his tenure at the UTHSC, he was internationally recognized expert in the field of hypertension, particularly for his contributions characterizing salt sensitivity and its crucial links to vascular reactivity and hemodynamic responses. Later, Dr. Sullivan also became recognized as an international opinion leader in the management of cardiac disease in women. For 25 years, Dr. Sullivan provided exemplary leadership for the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases at the UTHSC. As a teacher he inspired a legion of medical students and residents in translating the basic pathophysiology of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension to the art of medicine. Indeed, his warm and cordial bedside manner provided a lasting legacy for his trainees and colleagues. He trained more than 90 cardiology fellows. An endowed Professorship was created to honor Dr. Sullivan’s legacy.

Dr. Karl T. WeberDr. Karl T. Weber was recruited to UTHSC in 1999 as the Neuton Stern Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Director of the Division of Cardiovascular Diseases Training Program. He received his undergraduate degree from Moravian College and medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine, where he also completed his internship. In 1983 Dr. Weber was appointed Director of the Cardiology Division and Cardiovascular Institute of the Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center and Harold H. Hines, Jr. Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago. He had served as Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine and Director of the Division of Cardiology at the University of Missouri Health Sciences Center from 1990 to 1997. Dr Weber’s work has been funded for more than 40 years and he is internationally known for his research and clinical contributions to the field of heart failure, its pathogenic origins and pathophysiologic expressions. Among his numerous scientific contributions to the practice of medicine is his pioneering work into the importance of the heart’s extracellular matrix and mechanisms responsible for cardiac fibrosis and the dyshomeostasis of macro- and micronutrients in congestive heart failure. Dr. Weber is a prolific author with over 550 publications. He serves on several US and international editorial boards.

Last Published: Apr 25, 2017