Campus Community to Salute Cardiologist at Retirement Celebration

By Robin Hindery

Kanu Chatterjee

After more than three decades of legendary clinical work and groundbreaking research, world-renowned cardiologist Kanu Chatterjee, MBBS, is retiring from UCSF.

Members of the UCSF community are invited to honor Chatterjee’s years of service to the University at a retirement celebration today, June 25, from 3 to 6 p.m. in Millberry Union on the Parnassus campus.

Chatterjee, the University’s Ernest Gallo-Kanu Chatterjee Distinguished Professor in Clinical Cardiology, joined the UCSF Medical Center staff in 1975 as director of the Cardiac Care Unit and associate chief of cardiology.

Since then, his pioneering studies of vascular reactivity and drugs such as ACE inhibitors and vasodilators have revolutionized the treatment of heart failure. He and his team at UCSF also developed the practical application of the Swan-Ganz catheter, a pulmonary artery catheter that is now a vital instrument in any intensive care unit.

But Chatterjee is equally celebrated for his clinical skills and bedside manner. In 2006, he was named a Department of Medicine master clinician, an honor that recognizes outstanding patient care.

“Dr. Chatterjee is a saintly man,” said William Grossman, MD, the Meyer Friedman Distinguished Professor in Medicine at UCSF and former chief of cardiology at UCSF Medical Center. “He transmits calm and spiritual peace to his patients. They come away feeling that they’re improved, just by having been in his presence.”

Recently, Grossman recalled, a former patient of Chatterjee’s decided to make a major gift to the University in his honor.

“Without a moment’s hesitation, Dr. Chatterjee asked that the gift be made in the form of an endowed chair to support one of the Division of Cardiology’s young faculty members who is early in his research career,” Grossman said. “This is yet another example of how Dr. Chatterjee — in a very unassuming and selfless way — has directed philanthropic gifts made in his honor to support our residents, fellows and faculty colleagues, as well as the medical center overall.”

“Dr. Chatterjee exemplifies the intellect, skills, values, compassion and quest for knowledge that we hope to instill in every UCSF trainee, physician and staff member,” added Joshua Adler, MD, UCSF Medical Center’s chief medical officer, who was a student of Chatterjee’s during his residency at UCSF nearly 20 years ago.

Chatterjee was born in India and attended R.G. Kar Medical College in Calcutta. In 1963, he left India for the United Kingdom, where he completed his residency in internal medicine at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, followed by a fellowship in cardiology at the Royal College of Physicians in London.

He then moved to the United States, where he served as director of the Inpatient Cardiology Service at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles before joining UCSF.

Looking back on the past 34 years, Chatterjee said he has enjoyed watching the expansion of every aspect of cardiovascular care at UCSF.

“There has been great change during my career here,” he said in a recent phone interview. “There has been a tremendous explosion in clinical research, basic science research, epidemiology and cardiology. UCSF has contributed a lot to the amazing progress [in the field].”

Soon after his retirement celebration on June 25, Chatterjee will move to the Midwest, where he will take on the role of clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa. He said he is looking forward to the next chapter and has “no regrets,” but will miss UCSF.

“I used to come in at 6:30 a.m. and leave at 7:30 or 8 p.m. every day, and I often worked weekends as well,” he recalled. “UCSF has been like my second home, and the faculty has been a second family.”

Chatterjee’s absence from the University will be keenly felt, colleagues say, though they note that he will be leaving behind many lasting contributions in the form of research innovations, grateful patients and former students.

The Chatterjee name also will remain on campus: the Chatterjee Center for Cardiac Research and the Kanu Chatterjee Resident Education Center at UCSF Medical Center are both named after him.

Related Links:

Division of Cardiology
UCSF Department of Medicine

The Doctors’ Doctors: Department of Medicine Names Seven Master Clinicians
UCSF Today, Aug. 29, 2007