Ileana L. Piña, MD, MPH


April 15, 2015

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A Mentor, a Scientist, and a Friend

Hello. I'm Ileana Piña, from Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York.

This is one of my tribute blogs. The reason I wanted to do this is that I learned today of the loss of a great mentor, a great scientist, and a dear friend: Dr Kanu Chatterjee, from the University of Iowa, who passed away on March 4. I did not know this until this morning [recorded March 16].

Kanu was honored by us at the American Heart Association in November 2014 for his lifelong work in the area of hemodynamics and heart failure. He was one of my heroes. I remember, as a fellow, poring through journal articles to learn more about these strange afterload and preload mechanisms that were affecting the heart failure patients that I was learning about. This is very early, in the infancy portion of our heart failure learning.

Kanu was a pioneer in studies using things like IV nitroprusside and IV nitroglycerin, and looking at hemodynamics and plotting them. The pioneer work was really very gutsy but also very leading. Through the years we used those experiences to then translate into the hemodynamic time of heart failure—even before we knew better about the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system that plagues us, that makes our patients have symptoms, and that we have been targeting for years with our drugs.

But Kanu was not just a scientist par excellence. He was also a gifted teacher. Dr Hector Ventura and I have had a national heart failure training program for many years. The University of California in San Francisco was one of my favorite sites, and it was because of Kanu. We knew that anyone who went there to look at heart failure, to learn more about heart failure, would have the incredible experience of being taken to the bedside by Kanu and having done a fabulous physical exam with all of the hemodynamics tied into it.

His last email to me, which was not very long ago, was asking me for another chapter for his book. He had kept writing, and up until a few weeks ago he was still searching for new chapters for his book. He has left us a legacy of science, of bravery, of pioneering, and of great teaching, and as a gentle, loving human. I personally will miss him. Thank you.


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