Kanu Chatterjee, MD, passes

Chatterjee-webDr. Kanu Chatterjee died Wednesday afternoon, March 4. He celebrated his 81st birthday on March 1.

Dr. Chatterjee was born in Bangladesh in 1934 and moved to Calcutta, India, as a refugee. He completed medical school at the R.G. Kar Medical College in Calcutta, India, while still living in a refugee camp, and moved to England in 1964 to complete his training in internal medicine and cardiology. At St. George’s Hospital he was the first to describe post pacing T wave changes on the ECG, an effect that was later termed cardiac memory. He moved to Los Angeles and worked with Drs. Jeremy Swan and William Ganz in Cedars Sinai Medical Center and described, along with his colleagues, the hemodynamic subsets of acute coronary syndrome and provided insights into hemodynamically guided drug therapy. He was the first to report the beneficial effect of sodium nitroprusside in severe mitral regurgitation.

The major portion of Dr. Chatterjee’s career was spent at the University of California in San Francisco, where he taught several generations of innovative, successful cardiologists who became national and international leaders in their field. From 2001–2009 he directed the UCSF Chatterjee Center for Cardiac Research, named in his honor. He moved to Iowa in 2009 with his wife, Docey Edwards Chatterjee, an Iowa native. At the University of Iowa, he continued his teaching, clinical work, and writing as the first UI Kanu and Docey Edwards Chatterjee Chair in Cardiovascular Medicine.

Dr. Chatterjee wrote more than 380 peer reviewed publications and 80 reviews and chapters relating to the management of patients with cardiovascular diseases and with the assistance of several Iowa colleagues, he edited the book Cardiology – An Illustrated Textbook. He received many teaching and achievement awards including the Gifted Teacher Award from the American College of Cardiology, and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Heart Failure Society of America. In 2014, he received the Herrick Award, the highest honor in clinical cardiology available from the American Heart Association.

Kanu Chatterjee was a gifted physician, teacher, and researcher, admired and regarded with profound affection by his students, colleagues, and staff. Quiet, modest, and endlessly proud of the many young physicians he had inspired and trained, he changed the practice of cardiology in the world.

More information will be forthcoming. See Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Service.



  1. As a Renal Fellow at UCSF, I had numerous interactions with Dr. Chatterjee, mostly in the CCU. His understanding of CV hemodynamics was unsurpassed, and extended to include deep insights into the role of the kidneys in CV disease. He didn’t simply provide knowledge, but rather tools for approaching clinical problems. Most of all, he did all this with an extraordinary level of kindness and respect, which further helped open young minds to his beautiful teaching. I visited with him on a trip to Iowa recently, and it was a joy to be reminded of his kindness and thoughtfulness, and to see his continued teaching.

    Deep condolences to the Chatterjee family.

    –David Pearce, Professor of Medicine (Nephrology, UCSF).

  2. I was an “intern” at UCSF in 1974 and Dr. Chatterjee was truly legendary. His emphasis on the physical examination was an art that he was determined to not let students forget in the age of emerging technology. He could predict auscultation findings simply by palpation–and once he put his stethoscope over the heart he could predict hemodynamics with amazing accuracy. He was kind and gentle and treated all with the utmost respect regardless of title or position–a wonderful individual and role model.

  3. Just learned that one of the most influential professors in my clinical training passed away at 81. I developed a deep and lifelong passion for medicine while training at UCSF. Many great clinicians gave me that gift. Kanu Chatterjee was among the best. The highest compliment anyone can receive is that their life made a difference. His did. While a part of me wants to be sad, most of what I feel is gratitude. It is my privilege to have known him. May he rest in peace.

  4. I didn’t know Kanu very long but in the short time I did he struck me as a genuinely compassionate person whose accomplishments as a clinicain and teacher belied his modest and unassuming personality- a rarity in academia today. He will be greatly missed by his colleagues at Iowa and elsewhere.

    Kaiko Irani, MD
    University of Iowa.

  5. Dr. Chatterjee was my classmate, we studied in R G Kar Medical College from 1950 to 1955, worked together in the
    same hospital. He was a very nice fellow. I miss one of my best friends. May his soul rest in peace.

  6. I worked in “Dr. Chatterjee’s CCU” at UCSF 1980-88. He was a caring human being as observed in his interactions with his patients and the entire staff. He would call the charge nurse every evening and inquire about his patients and his residents. I graduated from the University of Iowa and was a little bit jealous when I heard that he was moving to Iowa City. We missed him then and now we will miss him even more. May he rest in peace.

  7. I had the opportunity to spend a month as a visiting med student with Kanu. I had no idea at the time how lucky I was to be exposed to such one of a kind physician. I remenber the fellows in the CCU would try to trick him and present the Valvular cases with the wrong diagnosis. They once presented a HCOM as MR and it took him 2 seconds to lift stetocscope and ask the fellow “are you sure?”. He once asked to me listen to a pulmonary HTN case and tell him about the murmur. I came up with a very wrong guess and he told me:”there is no point in guessing…learn it”. I never forgot those words. I called him 15 yrs later when I became Chief of Hospital Medicine, and invited him to come give us a Grand Rounds. He came to New York and the residents loved his lecture and we all enjoyed spending time with a true hero in Cardiology.
    I shall never forget Kanu.

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