Cardiology lost a luminary on January 25, 2016. Arnold M. Katz died after a 14-year battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. At the time of his death, he was honorary professor of medicine and physiology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.
Arnie was the justifiably proud son of a remarkable father, Louis N. Katz, an early president of the American Heart Association. Arnie attended the University of Chicago as an undergraduate and received his medical degree cum laude from Harvard Medical School in 1956. During summers, he worked in his father’s laboratory at Michael Reece Hospital on coronary blood flow and left ventricular volume, leading to first-authored papers in the American Journal of Physiology and Circulation Research before he finished medical school. After a year of medical internship at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Arnie served as a research associate in the laboratory of future Nobel Laureate Christian Anfinsen at the National Institutes of Health. A resulting 1959 publication on peptide separation in the Journal of Biological Chemistry remains frequently cited >50 years later.1
Arnie resumed his clinical training as a medical resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant registrar at the National Heart Hospital in London with Dr Paul Wood. This was followed by a research fellowship at UCLA with Wilfred Mommaerts. As an American Heart Association Established Investigator, Arnie was first appointed to the medical faculty at Columbia University and then the University of Chicago. In 1969, he became the first Philip J. and Harriet L. Goodhart Professor of Medicine (Cardiology) at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. From 1977 to 1997, Arnie was professor of medicine and head of cardiology at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, positions he held until his retirement, when he became visiting professor of medicine and physiology at the (then) Dartmouth School of Medicine.
Arnie was a prolific writer and continued writing to the very end. His publications are remarkable for their extent, breadth, and quality. During his career, Arnie published >300 scientific articles, edited or coedited 17 books, and contributed chapters to many textbooks and reviews. His highly acclaimed single-authored text Physiology of the Heart is now in its fifth edition.
Much of Arnie’s bench research focused on myocardial contraction and relaxation, specifically contractile proteins, G proteins, cAMP-dependent protein kinase, and calcium uptake by sarcoplasmic reticulum. He narrowly missed being the first to publish the discovery that tropomyosin regulates actin-myosin interactions.2 Arnie and members of his laboratory at Mount Sinai published a series of landmark studies that identified a muscle protein, later called phospholamban, and elucidated its role in β-adrenergic agonist–induced myocardial relaxation.3–5 At the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, his research group further investigated calcium transport in cardiac muscle and the role of lipids in altering sarcolemmal structure and function. After closing his laboratory at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Arnie refocused his attention on heart failure. This interest resulted in his encyclopedic book Heart Failure: Pathophysiology, Molecular Biology, and Clinical Management, cowritten with Marvin Konstam and now in its second edition.
With his background in the basic sciences, Arnie was able to link the outcomes of clinical trials in heart failure to biochemical and physiological mechanisms. He predicted that positive inotropic agents would be harmful in patients with heart failure and instead was one of the early advocates for treating patients with heart failure with β-adrenergic blockers. He coined the term “cardiomyopathy of overload” and pointed out the maladaptive consequences of long-term concentric hypertrophy in pressure overload and progressive ventricular dilatation in volume overload.6
During the course of his career, Arnie wrote numerous editorials and review articles. He was an avid student of the history of cardiology and cardiovascular physiology. Arnie’s personal library, in part inherited from his father, included many classics of cardiology. He often referenced them in his publications.
Arnie served on the editorial boards of many journals, including editor-in-chief of the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology for 6 years. His committee and study-section service to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, American Heart Association, International Society for Heart Research, Sarnoff Endowment for Cardiovascular Science, and American College of Cardiology was extensive.
Arnie was the recipient of numerous awards. In 1975, he received a Humboldt Research Award for a sabbatical year at the University of Heidelberg with Wilhelm Hasselbach. He went on to receive a Research Achievement Award from the American Heart Association, the Peter Harris Distinguished Scientist Award of the International Society for Heart Research, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Heart Failure Society of America, and the Medal of Merit of the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences. One of Arnie’s proudest moments came in 1995 when the Basic Science Council of the American Heart Association announced that the name of Arnold M. Katz would be added to the Louis N. Katz Basic Science Research Prize for Young Investigators that had been established years before to honor his father.
When asked what had given him his greatest satisfaction, Arnie’s unhesitating answer was family and teaching. As accomplished as Arnie was as a basic scientist, he derived an even greater sense of achievement from teaching medical students and residents. He was a passionate teacher and a superb one, well loved by medical students, and the recipient of teaching awards at both the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Dartmouth. His lectures were elegant as they progressed seamlessly and logically from the 19th century observations of legendary clinicians to the molecular biology of the 21st century. At the bedside, Medical Grand Rounds, Morbidity and Mortality Conferences, and in seminars, Arnie imparted to students the importance of approaching every patient as a unique individual whose management requires an understanding of basic physiological principles. He eschewed rote treatment by protocol and had little use for conventional wisdom if it did not have a sound scientific basis. If there ever was an example of what it means to occupy the 3-legged stool, clinician, researcher, and teacher, it was Arnie. He carried the 19th century paradigm into the 21st century.
Arnie had a natural generosity of spirit. He was generous in acknowledging the work of coworkers and other investigators. As much as his father’s gruff manner terrorized young investigators giving their very first presentation at an annual meeting of the American Heart Association (I was one of those), Arnie was known for his ability to offer incisive criticism in the most amicable way. Arnie had a gift of bonding with people: family, friends, colleagues, and students. He was infallibly good-humored, even a bit mischievous at times.
Throughout his long illness, Arnie was courageous and upbeat. To be around him in his last years was to appreciate his infectious optimism. He had experienced numerous remissions, some brief, some prolonged, of his lymphoma in response to a variety of chemotherapeutic regimens, some unconventional as Arnie would have it.
I had known Arnie since medical school and house staff days. Way back then, he exhibited brilliance as a clinician. His clinical notes were a remarkable combination of astute insight, good humor, and flamboyant scrawl. It was my privilege to have coauthored Arnie’s last publication. Despite the advanced stage of his illness, his mind was sharp as he continuously offered new insights. No sooner had we completed a draft than a new thought required its revision.
Arnie is survived by his wife, Phyllis; 4 children; and 8 grandchildren. Phyllis and he were partners in marriage for nearly 57 years. To the end, Arnie was one of those rare individuals who truly make a difference in the lives of everyone within his broad circle of family and friends, colleagues, and students. With his passing, we have lost a dear friend and colleague.
- © 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.
- Katz AM,
- Dreyer WJ,
- Anfinsen CB
- Kirchberger MA,
- Tada M,
- Katz AM
- Tada M,
- Kirchberger MA,
- Katz AM