Department of Medicine

On October 21, 2020, we celebrated what would have been J. Willis Hurst's 100th birthday. A legend in cardiovascular health care and department chair for more than 30 years, Hurst paved the way for hundreds of physicians at both Emory and beyond.

Hurst was appointed professor and chairman of the Emory University Department of Medicine in 1957 at the age of 36 and remained in that position for 30 years. In the early 1960s, he established Emory's continuing medical education program in cardiology, which secured the school's reputation in teaching, attracting cardiologists from around the world to learn how to do procedures being pioneered and perfected at Emory. Hurst was also a founding architect of the Emory Clinic.

Throughout his 55-year career at Emory's medical school, Hurst taught more than 5,000 medical students and 2,500 residents and fellows – roughly a fifth of all doctors currently practicing in Georgia. He received the highest teaching awards from the American College of Cardiologists and the American College of Physicians. He was also a recipient of the Crystal Apple teaching award, and in 2002, the residency training program in medicine was named in his honor.

"I think teaching is the greatest profession there is. I've always found it exciting to try to create an environment where young trainees, students, house officers, and fellows can learn. That's what I've tried to do." - J. Willis Hurst

Department Leadership Remember Hurst

Department of Medicine leadership David S. Stephens, MDWayne Alexander, MD, PhDNanette Wenger, MD; and Kenneth Walker, MD discuss Hurst’s legacy.

John Hurst, MD, Remembers His Father

Watch an interview with Hurst's son as he recalls stories and memories of his father. You can also read his tribute in the American Journal of Cardiology

Hurst Served as President Lyndon Baines Johnson's Doctor for 18 Years

Read about Hurst's role as the thirty-sixth president of the United States' personal cardiologist in the 1997 spring issue of Emory Magazine. You can also read more in the 1996 fall issue of Emory Medical Magazine.

Hurst with LBJ

New York Times Feature

Read more about Hurst's background and accomplishments in a 2011 New York Times piece.


Tribute in the Atlanta Journal Constitution

Read a 2012 tribute to Hurst, featuring School of Medicine faculty and Atlanta physicians. 

Hurst 1949

Lessons About the Heart, of the Heart, and From the Heart

Read an editorial by Laurence S. Sperling, MD, professor in the Division of Cardiology. 

Hurst 1982

Internal Medicine Residency Program Renamed in 2002

Emory’s J. Willis Hurst Internal Medicine Residency Program is set in a world-class center for research, public health, and medical education. Learn more about the program.

Residents at EUH

View Photos of Hurst Through the Years

To view photos, hover over the edge of the gallery and arrows will appear.