In a long and productive career, Dr. Simon H. Stertzer has sought to improve treatment modalities in cardiovascular disease. A close colleague of the late Andreas R. Gruentzig, MD, the pioneer of balloon angioplasty (PTCA) in Switzerland, Dr. Stertzer was the first to perform PTCA in the United States in 1978. Dr. Stertzer’s contributions to clinical cardiology include advancement of rotational atherectomy, sheathless coronary and drug delivery stents, cardiac transplant molecular diagnostics, and currently, direct stem cell implantation into the heart muscle of patients with heart failure.

Education, Hospital and Academic Appointments

Simon Stertzer graduated from Union College with an AB degree, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1957. During his junior year, he earned a Certificat de Physiologie at the University of Paris (Sorbonne), under the direction of Yale University Professor Georges May. Dr. Stertzer was granted his MD degree from New York University, graduating Alpha Omega Alpha, in 1961.


He interned at the University of California Hospitals, San Francisco, from 1961–1962, returning to NYU as an assistant resident in medicine from 1962–1965.


While at NYU, he served as Chief Resident in Medicine at the III-IV Medical Division of Bellevue Hospital, in 1964, and then did a fellowship in Cardiovascular Medicine from 1965–1967, under the tutelage of Dr. Edmund H. Reppert Jr. at the New York University Hospital, now Langone Medical Center.


Dr. Stertzer became Director of the Catheterization Laboratory at Lenox Hill Hospital in 1971, where he remained until 1983. He served as the Director of Medical Research and Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at the San Francisco Heart Institute in Daly City, California, from 1983 until 1993, working with the institute’s director, the late Dr. Richard K. Myler.


In 1993, Dr. Stertzer was recruited to Stanford University’s School of Medicine, as Professor of Medicine, by Dr. Victor J. Dzau, currently President at the National Academy of Medicine. Dr. Stertzer is now Professor Emeritus at Stanford and has 3 named professorships at the Stanford University School of Medicine, including the latest one created in December of 2020: the Professorship held by the Chair of the Division Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine, Dr. Eldrin F Lewis, formally of the Brigham Hospital and the Harvard School of Medicine.



In 1964, Dr. Simon Stertzer performed the first selective coronary arteriogram in New York City at Bellevue Hospital Center, and along with Dr. Anthony Imperato, implanted the first fully internal cardiac pacemaker in Manhattan, at New York University Hospital in 1965.


Working with pioneering cardiac surgeons Drs. Frank C. Spencer, George E. Green and David A. Tice, Dr. Stertzer co-authored the results of the first micro-vascular implants of the internal mammary to anterior descending coronary artery bypass operation, in New York, in 1968.


In 1978, while attending at Lenox Hill Hospital, Simon Stertzer performed the first coronary balloon angioplasty in the United States.


During his tenure at the San Francisco Heart Institute, Dr. Simon Stertzer brought atherectomy, mitral and aortic valvuloplasty programs, and coronary stenting to medical centers around the globe, demonstrating these techniques to teams in countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore, Sweden, France, the Philippines, and the former Soviet Union.


Over the course of his career, Dr. Stertzer has performed more than 12,500 coronary interventions and amassed a bibliography of more than 140 peer-reviewed articles.



Benefiting from Stanford Medical Center’s fortuitous proximity to Silicon Valley, Dr. Stertzer collaborated with industrial engineers to create several interventional startups, including: Arterial Vascular Engineering, an angioplasty balloon and stent company later acquired by Medtronic, Inc.; his group formed a drug delivery stent company, Quanam Medical Corporation, later acquired by Boston Scientific, Inc.; and BioCardia®, Inc., a cardiovascular stem cell/biotechnology company.

Dr. Stertzer served as BioCardia’s Board Chair for two decades. He recently stepped down from that position, but continues to serve on the Board of Directors, is Chairman of the Nominating Committee and is on the Science and Technology Committee.


In addition to his work at Stanford and BioCardia, Dr. Stertzer consults on clinical cases in California and Wyoming.

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Received MD from New York University


Performed the first selective coronary arteriogram in New York City


Fellow in Cardiovascular Medicine, NYU


Director of the Catheterization Laboratory at Lenox Hill Hospital


Performed the first coronary balloon angioplasty in the United States at Lenox Hill


Director of Medical Research and Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at the San Francisco Heart Institute


Founded Arterial Vascular Engineering


Professor of Medicine at Stanford University


Arterial Vascular Engineering acquired by Medtronic, Inc.


Co-founded BioCardia, Inc.


Appointed Professor Emeritus, Stanford University

From the Innovator’s Workbench:
An Interview With Simon Stertzer

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