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7.05.2011

Agustin Castellanos, M.D., Retires After Nearly Six Decades

On June 1, 1996, the University of Miami recognized Agustin Castellanos, M.D., professor of medicine, for “33 years of devotion, distinguished work, and faithful service.” Castellanos, who is known as “Tino” by friends and colleagues, would, however, remain on the faculty for another 15 years, amassing additional awards for his remarkable cardiology research and patient care, garnering more national and international recognition for the University through his published material and participation in dozens of conferences and scientific seminars, and instructing cardiology fellows, a task he described as “most fulfilling.”

On May 31, after a nearly six decade career in medicine that began with his graduation from the University of Havana School of Medicine in 1953, Castellanos retired from the Miller School.

“Tino Castellanos has been a scientific partner, a trusted friend, and close faculty colleague from the day I joined the University of Miami in January 1970 to the day of his retirement,” said Robert J. Myerburg, M.D., professor of medicine and physiology. “I treasure the memories of our discussions that ranged from science to philosophy to the world’s problems. We didn’t solve many problems, but we certainly had fun trying.”

Extolling Dr. Castellanos’ remarkable devotion to his fellows, Myerburg also cited feedback from one of them. “My entire trip to Miami was redeemed within just one day of learning ECGs with Dr. C.,” the fellow wrote. “I am privileged, honored and spellbound every time I read with Dr. C.”

Dr. Castellanos’ early research, conducted in Havana from about 1957 until his immigration to the United States in 1960, included studies of the normal vectorcardiogram in infants, a technical paper on vectorcardiography with resistance compensation using the Frank method, and left ventricular hypertrophy in the presence of left bundle branch block.

After arriving in the U.S., Dr. Castellanos completed an internship at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center, then joined the faculty as an instructor in medicine in 1962. He rose through the ranks while racking up wide recognition for clinical cardiovascular research focusing on electrocardiography and cardiac electrophysiology. He is the co-developer of the “Demand” pacemaker, now known as VVI pacemaker, and was the first to make a presentation on the device at national and international meetings. He also co-developed the AV sequential pacemaker, initially known as the “Bifocal” pacemaker, and co-directed the “Master Approach to Cardiovascular Problems” conference, held annually for 31 years.

Prior to his retirement, Dr. Castellanos was honored with numerous external awards, including a diploma of merit from Patronato Jose Marti; a special award from the Puerto Rico Chapter of the American College of Cardiology; a diploma of honor from the Cuban Medical Association in Exile; and a Physician’s Recognition Award from the American Medical Association. Other UM-based awards include several “Outstanding Faculty Teacher” awards, and, in June 2007, a career achievement award in recognition of “more than 50 years of clinical, educational, and research contributions to the field of electrocardiography and clinical cardiac electrophysiology.”

Eduardo de Marchena, M.D., professor of medicine and surgery, associate dean of international medicine and chair of University of Miami Medical Group, said Dr. Castellanos leaves “big shoes to fill,” especially given his loyalty and dedication to the hundreds of cardiology fellows who learned the art of electrocardiography and electrophysiology from him.

“Tino is one of the most gifted, patient and dedicated educators I have had the pleasure to learn from and work with in my career,” Dr. de Marchena said.

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