• Dr. Kenneth M. ‘Kenny’ Kent, Interventional Cardiology Pioneer: 1938-2020

    Kenneth M. “Kenny” Kent, MD, PhD, a pioneer in interventional cardiology, died Thursday. He was 81.

    He was considered a paramount researcher, innovator, physician and teacher.

    Augusto D. Pichard, MD, a former director of the cardiac catheterization laboratories at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Washington, D.C., said Dr. Kent was “a key leader for the initiation of angioplasty in America.” Pichard said this as part of a tribute video produced in honor of Dr. Kent’s receiving the CRT Lifetime Achievement Award during the Cardiovascular Research Technologies 2014 conference.

    “Kenny said, ‘Wow! This is really important.’ So Kenny went off to (Dr. Andreas) Gruentzig’s laboratory, spent a week there,” Stephen E. Epstein, MD, head of translational and vascular biology research at MedStar Heart and Vascular Institute, said in the video. Gruentzig performed the first coronary angioplasty on a human patient in 1977.

    Dr. Kent studied medicine at Emory University. He received his PhD in physiology while at the National Institutes of Health.

    Ron Waksman, MD, director of cardiovascular research and advanced education at MedStar Heart and Vascular Institute, noted that Dr. Kent played a key role in creating the first national registry of what was then known as percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty.

    “Kenny believed from Day 1 that we need to collect the data,” Waksman said in the tribute video. “It’s not going to be about anecdotal. It’s not going to be about doing a good case and showing it to the world. We have to collect the data.”

    Waksman added that Dr. Kent and Martin B. Leon, MD, directed the first Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics conference at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington.

    Dr. Kent was director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Georgetown University Hospital from 1983 to 1990. He and his colleagues then formed a private professional corporation based at Washington Hospital Center, according to a book, Selling Teaching Hospitals and Practice Plans: George Washington and Georgetown Universities, by John A. Kastor, MD, former chair of the Department of Medicine and a cardiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

    Kastor added that Dr. Kent returned to what had become MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in 2000 as director of cardiology. In 2003, Dr. Kent became chief of cardiology at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.

    Lowell F. Satler, MD, the current director of cardiac catherization laboratories at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, said in the tribute video that Dr. Kent “was a very strong believer in education.”

    “I know that I speak not only on my behalf, but that of so many fellows, that Dr. Kent has trained over the years,” Leonardo Clavijo, MD, PhD, director of the Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Program at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, said in the video. “We found not only inspiration but a true role model.”

    Pichard added: “His students loved him, and he has trained, of course, people that are now around the world themselves teaching angioplasty.”

    Perhaps Morton Kern, MD, chief of medicine at the Veterans Affairs Long Beach Health Care System, California, best summed up Dr. Kent’s contribution to the advancement of interventional cardiology.

    “Without his insight and participation, much of the work done in interventional cardiology would still be left to study,” according to a quote attributed to Kern at the end of the video.


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