The History of Stern Cardiovascular

Our Story

To commemorate the legacy of excellence in cardiovascular medicine bestowed by our founder, Neuton S. Stern, M.D. (1890-1969) and his son, Thomas N. Stern, M.D. (1926-2006), The Cardiology Group of Memphis was named The Stern Cardiovascular Center.

Neuton Stern was a pioneer in modern cardiology from his earliest years in the Profession. "When my father came back to (practice and teach in) Memphis in 1919, he brought the city's first EKG machine with him and gave a talk about it to the local medical society," recalled Tom Stern. "After Dad's talk, an eminent physician said, 'Any doctor who has to use one of those to make a diagnosis isn't worthy of being called a doctor!' I heard that story at home many times."

The son of a salesman, Neuton Stern was born and raised in Memphis. But an aunt living in Boston was convinced that a southern city was no place for her bright nephew to get an education. She insisted that he come to Massachusetts to repeat his senior year in high school. He did and proceeded to earn his bachelor's degree from Harvard Medical College in 1915, graduating first in his class.

Following his internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, Stern enlisted in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, where he earned a medal from the French government for helping prevent an epidemic during World War I. "He arranged to be mustered out so he could study cardiology in England with Sir Thomas Lewis, then the world's supreme cardiologist," Tom Stern said.

After the war ended, Stern was invited to return to Mass General, but instead he decided "he owed a personal debt to his family, so he chose to come back and serve" his hometown and UT Memphis, his son recalled.

The elder Stern's career was characterized by his leadership. He was Tennessee's first diplomat of the National Board of Medical Examiners, an organization that develops and administers licensing examinations for physicians. He was a founding member of the American Heart Association and established the Memphis chapter of the AHA, also serving as the group's president. Author of numerous publications, he wrote four textbooks: Clinical Examination and Physical Diagnosis, Bases of Treatment, Rare Diseases, and Understanding Sexual Behavior.

Stern said the strongest recollection he had of his father was "his equanimity; he never became ruffled." He added that his father "never said one word" to pressure his son to follow in his footsteps. "But I am sure I chose medicine because of the feelings I had for him."

Tom Stern attended the UT College of Medicine for two years and graduated from Washington University Medical School in St. Louis. He completed his residency at UT Memphis in 1950 and served on the faculty of the UT College of Medicine since then.

Tom Stern's medical scholarship, teaching, research, and humanistic concern for his patients prompted the Center to adopt as its mission statement, "Excellence in Cardiovascular Medicine, Research, and Patient Care."