Published March 8, 2010
Ivan L. Bunnell, MD ’43, an internationally renowned cardiologist and longtime UB clinical professor of medicine, died on February 20, 2010, in Canterbury Woods, Amherst, after a brief illness. He was 92.
Bunnell was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College. He began his association with UB medical school in 1938 when he accepted a position as a student assistant in physiology. In 1941 he earned a master’s degree in physiology before completing his medical degree in 1943.
Bunnell completed his internship and residency at the E. J. Meyer Memorial Hospital (now Erie County Medical Center). He served in the Army from 1941 to 1946 and in the Public Health Service in Kansas City, Missouri, from 1946 to 1948.
Bunnell established the area’s first adult cardiac catheterization laboratory in 1948 at Buffalo General Hospital with the late David G. Greene, MD, his medical partner for 43 years.
In addition to developing the world’s first complex-angled X-ray view of the coronary arteries in 1973, he was one of the first physicians to recognize that a similar technique could be used in the study of renal disease, and he wrote a book on the topic.
“Dr. Bunnell was a wonderful teacher, friend and counselor to everyone in cardiology at UB,” says Francis J. Klocke, MD ’60, professor of medicine emeritus (cardiology) in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and chief of cardiology at UB from 1976 to 1991. “Together with Dr. Greene, he pioneered angiography and interventional cardiology in Western New York. His development of angulated views of the coronary arteries in the late 1960s and early 1970s facilitated the identification of often-unappreciated major arterial narrowing. Not surprisingly, his approach was quickly adopted by other laboratories in the United States and abroad.
“Although based at Buffalo General Hospital, Dr. Bunnell also was generous and thoughtful in assisting in the development of cardiac catheterization programs at Erie County Medical Center and other local institutions,” Klocke adds. “His gentle demeanor and understanding of patients’ individual needs enhanced his effectiveness as a physician and were an example to all of us.”
Bunnell is survived by his wife, Alice; a daughter, Anne Damm; and two sons, Gene and Mark.