Bramah Singh, pioneer in classifying anti-arrhythmic drugs, dies

Bramah N. Singh, MD, an emeritus professor of cardiology at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), who co-developed a classification system for anti-arrhythmic medications, died at his home on Sept. 20, the university announced. He was 76 years old.

He served as a professor in UCLA’s cardiology division from 1980 to 2009 as well as chief of cardiology from 1988 to 1996 and as a staff physician and cardiac researcher at the VA Hospital in West Los Angeles. He retired in 2009.

Singh launched his career while a doctoral candidate at Oxford University in England in a collaboration with E.M. Vaughan Williams. The two researchers characterized the medications amiodarone and sotalol and categorized them as a new class of anti-arrhythmic drugs. They developed the now widely used Singh Vaughan Williams Classification System for anti-arrhythmic drugs.

“Since many anti-arrhythmic drugs have multiple modes of action, this early classification system was very helpful in guiding research and patient care,” Kalyanam Shivkumar, MD, PhD, director of the UCLA Cardiac Arrhythmia Center, said in a release. “Dr. Singh’s contributions have helped pave the way for further exploration and categorization of these important medications.”

He received a medical degree from the University of Otago in New Zealand in 1963 and completed a medicine residency and cardiology fellowship at hospitals in Auckland. He returned to New Zealand after earning his doctorate at Oxford in 1972.

He came to UCLA in 1976 as an associate professor in the division of cardiology and director of inpatient cardiology. He was also an attending physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He became a professor in 1980.

A memorial service is planned to take place to coincide with the American College of Cardiology’s scientific session in mid-March in San Diego.