5 Questions with Dr. Bhatt

A Conversation With Ajay Kirtane, MD, SM

For this issue, Dr. Bhatt talks with Cardiology Today’s Intervention Editorial Board Member Ajay Kirtane, MD, SM, chief academic officer at the Center for Interventional Vascular Therapy at Columbia University Medical Center and director of NewYork-Presbyterian and Columbia Catheterization Laboratories.

After graduating from Princeton University and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Kirtane completed his internal medicine residency at the University of California, San Francisco, followed by fellowships in CVD and coronary and peripheral vascular intervention at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

During his career, Kirtane has written numerous manuscripts, headed up large-scale clinical trials and served as director for important medical meetings.

Deepak L. Bhatt

Who has had the greatest influence on your career?

Dr. Kirtane: Many people have influenced my career. First, I owe the entire start of my career to C. Michael Gibson, MD. I met him when I was a resident. I started working with him in California and ultimately worked on many projects with him in Boston as well. Next, I had several attendings during fellowship such as Joe Carrozza, MD, from whom I learned quite a bit by seeing how they thought through cases in the cath lab. David Cohen, MD, helped me get my current job at Columbia, so I owe him a great deal. Then there are many people at Columbia, including Martin Leon, MD, Roxana Mehran, MD, Jeffrey Moses, MD, and Gregg Stone, MD, who have been extremely supportive of me and to whom I owe great debts for giving me so many opportunities throughout the years.

Sometimes people are fortunate to have one person who serves as a mentor throughout their career, but for me, many people, each in their own way, have mentored me. I feel even more fortunate because, even now, I can call upon many of them and have unique relationships with all of them.

What was the defining moment that led you to your field?

Dr. Kirtane: What appealed to me about the field was that I could not only perform procedures but also be part of the entire spectrum of patient care. That was a problem for me with the surgical field. I felt that although surgeons are proceduralists, they relinquish patient care afterwards. I always wanted to be involved from beginning, through the procedure and beyond. That’s how I practice today. I don’t view myself as a technical physician only; I view myself as someone who takes care of the patient as a whole and the procedure is just one aspect of that.

Ajay Kirtane

What area of research in intervention most interests you right now and why?

Dr. Kirtane: I wear different hats, so I have diverse interests. From a population health standpoint, I’m interested in how we get back to being good doctors — figuring out which patients will benefit the most from the interventions that we do and which patients perhaps don’t need these interventions.

From a cutting-edge, innovation standpoint, the explosion in the structural heart disease space is very exciting. I’m also involved in renal denervation for hypertension, which has now regained some momentum. Because high BP is so prevalent, having a new (and 100% adherent) way to take care of patients with hypertension could ultimately lead to huge changes on a population health scale.

I’m also interested in procedures such as higher-risk coronary intervention — for example, multivessel revascularization, left main revascularization and chronic total occlusion revascularization — and trying to adequately train people to be able to perform these procedures safely. If physicians can’t or don’t know how to perform these procedures, they also need training to find physicians who can, so patients aren’t deprived the potential benefit of a procedure because their doctor isn’t familiar with or comfortable performing these procedures themselves.

What advice would you offer to a student in medical school today?

Dr. Kirtane: Always stay thirsty for knowledge. If you feel that you’re no longer that way, then you have to take a vacation or a break, regardless of what field you’re in. Ultimately, that thirst is what keeps things fresh. That’s why medicine is so unique. New things are happening every day and every patient is different. If you can keep that desire for learning going, your career will be rewarding despite the toll it can take on other aspects of your life.

What are your hobbies outside of practicing medicine?

Dr. Kirtane: I enjoy hiking, skiing, tennis, music and spending time with my family. One of the things I most enjoy doing these days is playing music with my family.

I also enjoy running, which I do to stay in shape and I can actually walk the walk as well as talk the talk when I tell patients to exercise. My son beat me in a 5K when he was 10. But that crippling defeat motivated me to start training and I have since run several half marathons while my son tries to convince me that Xbox should be considered a sport. – by Melissa Foster and Katie Kalvaitis

For this issue, Dr. Bhatt talks with Cardiology Today’s Intervention Editorial Board Member Ajay Kirtane, MD, SM, chief academic officer at the Center for Interventional Vascular Therapy at Columbia University Medical Center and director of NewYork-Presbyterian and Columbia Catheterization Laboratories.

After graduating from Princeton University and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Kirtane completed his internal medicine residency at the University of California, San Francisco, followed by fellowships in CVD and coronary and peripheral vascular intervention at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

During his career, Kirtane has written numerous manuscripts, headed up large-scale clinical trials and served as director for important medical meetings.

Deepak L. Bhatt

Who has had the greatest influence on your career?

Dr. Kirtane: Many people have influenced my career. First, I owe the entire start of my career to C. Michael Gibson, MD. I met him when I was a resident. I started working with him in California and ultimately worked on many projects with him in Boston as well. Next, I had several attendings during fellowship such as Joe Carrozza, MD, from whom I learned quite a bit by seeing how they thought through cases in the cath lab. David Cohen, MD, helped me get my current job at Columbia, so I owe him a great deal. Then there are many people at Columbia, including Martin Leon, MD, Roxana Mehran, MD, Jeffrey Moses, MD, and Gregg Stone, MD, who have been extremely supportive of me and to whom I owe great debts for giving me so many opportunities throughout the years.

Sometimes people are fortunate to have one person who serves as a mentor throughout their career, but for me, many people, each in their own way, have mentored me. I feel even more fortunate because, even now, I can call upon many of them and have unique relationships with all of them.

What was the defining moment that led you to your field?

Dr. Kirtane: What appealed to me about the field was that I could not only perform procedures but also be part of the entire spectrum of patient care. That was a problem for me with the surgical field. I felt that although surgeons are proceduralists, they relinquish patient care afterwards. I always wanted to be involved from beginning, through the procedure and beyond. That’s how I practice today. I don’t view myself as a technical physician only; I view myself as someone who takes care of the patient as a whole and the procedure is just one aspect of that.

PAGE BREAK
Ajay Kirtane

What area of research in intervention most interests you right now and why?

Dr. Kirtane: I wear different hats, so I have diverse interests. From a population health standpoint, I’m interested in how we get back to being good doctors — figuring out which patients will benefit the most from the interventions that we do and which patients perhaps don’t need these interventions.

From a cutting-edge, innovation standpoint, the explosion in the structural heart disease space is very exciting. I’m also involved in renal denervation for hypertension, which has now regained some momentum. Because high BP is so prevalent, having a new (and 100% adherent) way to take care of patients with hypertension could ultimately lead to huge changes on a population health scale.

I’m also interested in procedures such as higher-risk coronary intervention — for example, multivessel revascularization, left main revascularization and chronic total occlusion revascularization — and trying to adequately train people to be able to perform these procedures safely. If physicians can’t or don’t know how to perform these procedures, they also need training to find physicians who can, so patients aren’t deprived the potential benefit of a procedure because their doctor isn’t familiar with or comfortable performing these procedures themselves.

What advice would you offer to a student in medical school today?

Dr. Kirtane: Always stay thirsty for knowledge. If you feel that you’re no longer that way, then you have to take a vacation or a break, regardless of what field you’re in. Ultimately, that thirst is what keeps things fresh. That’s why medicine is so unique. New things are happening every day and every patient is different. If you can keep that desire for learning going, your career will be rewarding despite the toll it can take on other aspects of your life.

What are your hobbies outside of practicing medicine?

Dr. Kirtane: I enjoy hiking, skiing, tennis, music and spending time with my family. One of the things I most enjoy doing these days is playing music with my family.

I also enjoy running, which I do to stay in shape and I can actually walk the walk as well as talk the talk when I tell patients to exercise. My son beat me in a 5K when he was 10. But that crippling defeat motivated me to start training and I have since run several half marathons while my son tries to convince me that Xbox should be considered a sport. – by Melissa Foster and Katie Kalvaitis