Dr. Bramah N. Singh, a renowned UCLA cardiologist who pioneered a novel classification system used by researchers and clinicians worldwide to study and develop anti-arrhythmic medications, died on Sept. 20 at his home in Encino. He was 76.
Singh was a leading expert on arrhythmias and the pharmacology involved in controlling and treating these severe irregular heart rhythms that affect millions of people. He conducted groundbreaking studies early in his career at Oxford University that enabled identification of a new class of anti-arrhythmic drugs, which became some of the most widely used such drugs in history.
Singh received his medical degree from the University of Otago in New Zealand in 1963 and completed his residency at Auckland Hospital as well as a cardiology fellowship at Green Lane Hospital, also in Auckland. He received his doctorate in 1971 from Oxford. Several decades later, both Oxford and the University of Otago awarded Singh a doctorate of acience for his lifelong contributions to medicine and cardiology.
As a doctoral candidate at Oxford working with E.M. Vaughan Williams, he identified the anti-arrhythmic properties of two medications, amiodarone and sotalol. Singh categorized these medications as a new class of anti-arrhythmic drugs, which he called Class III, nomenclature which has endured for more than four decades and is used to define the research and bedside application of drugs with similar properties.
Working with Vaughan Williams, Singh developed what is commonly referred to today as the Singh Vaughan Williams Classification System for all anti-arrhythmic drugs. This system is studied worldwide and used universally at medical schools and research centers around the world to understand and classify these drugs targeting irregular heart rhythms.
Singh joined UCLA in 1976 as an associate professor of medicine in the division of cardiology until 1980. A professor of medicine in the division of cardiology from 1980 to 2009, Singh also served as chief of cardiology from 1988 to 1996 and a staff physician and cardiac researcher at the VA Hospital in West Los Angeles until his retirement in 2009. He was also the director of inpatient cardiology and an attending physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center at one time during his career.
His pioneering work with anti-arrhythmic drugs and also his work targeting heart disease resulted in more than five hundred publications and book chapters. He was invited to lecture and teach at medical schools all over the world and mentored hundreds of young physicians.
“As an accomplished and respected cardiologist, Dr. Singh’s life and work touched many and he will be greatly missed,” said Dr. Noel Boyle, professor of medicine and director of the Cardiac Electrophysiology Labs, UCLA Health System and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
Singh is survived by his wife Roshni Singh; two sons, Dr. Pramil Singh and Dr. Sanjiv Singh; and daughter Dr. Nalini Singh. He is also survived by his siblings Vimla Singh, Dr. Nirbhay Singh, Dr. Yadhu Singh and Urmila Singh.
A memorial service is being planned to take place around the time when the American College of Cardiology is scheduled to meet in March 2015 in San Diego.