Stewart Wolf, M.D. 2012-07-27T11:55:53+00:00

1988 Hans Selye Award

Stewart Wolf, M.D. received his M.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1938 following which he did his medical residency at Cornell-New York Hospital under Eugene Du Bois and Harold Wolff and later joined Dr. Wolff’s distinguished team of stress researchers. While there, his interests in the role of stress in gastrointestinal disease and peptic ulcer were facilitated by the availability of Tom, a patient with a large gastric fistula. His investigations of Tom became a model for the study of human physiology with the voluntary cooperation of a patient and were detailed in Time magazine, which featured Dr. Wolf on its cover. During World War II he was initially assigned to work on head injury at the Harvard Neurological unit at Boston City Hospital under the renowned Derek Denny Brown. He was later transferred to the South Pacific, where he investigated the phenomenon of “voodoo death” Walter Cannon had written about and the role of culture and tradition in disease. During this period he served as internist, psychiatrist and consultant neurologist.

On his return to Cornell University Medical School, Stewart directed a clinical and research training program in psychosomatic medicine for six years and served as Associate Professor of Medicine. In 1952 he was appointed as the first full time Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center and head of the neuroscience section of the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. In 1969 he organized and became director of Marine Biomedical Institute of the University of Texas Medical School where he also served as Professor of Medicine and Physiology and pursued his research on the diving reflex, the significance of heart rate variability and was largely responsible for founding the field of neurocardiology. After retiring from that post he returned to Pennsylvania, where he had established the Totts Gap Institute in 1958 as a summer laboratory and had become friendly and fascinated with residents of the nearby town of Roseto. He turned Totts Gap Institute into a full time medical research facility under his direction and was appointed Professor of Medicine at Temple University.

Stewart is the author or editor of 30 books and monographs, including the revised edition of Harold Wolff’s classic Stress and Disease and has contributed to over 250 scientific papers. He served in an editorial capacity for 11 medical journals before assuming the editorship from 1990 to 2000 of Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Sciences. He has served in numerous capacities for the National Institutes of Health including Chairman of the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine and as a member of the National Advisory Heart Council. He has also been an official advisor to the U.S. Government for NASA, the FDA and the National Formulary. He is a past president of the American Psychosomatic Society and the Pavlovian Society and has been the recipient of awards from the American Heart Association, the American Gastrointestinal Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the Pavlovian Society. His other numerous honors include appointment as Regents Professor and a citation for Distinguished Service from the University of Oklahoma, an Honorary Degree from the University of Göteborg Sweden, the Laufberger medal and the Purkinje Award from the Czech Academy of Medicine.