M. Irené Ferrer, cardiology pioneer and professor emeritus of clinical medicine, died Nov. 12 in Manhattan at the age of 89. The cause was pneumonia combined with congestive heart failure.
Ferrier began teaching at Columbia in 1946 and was the first woman to serve as chief resident in medicine at Columbia's Bellevue Hospital . She worked with the Nobel Prize-winning team that developed the cardiac catheter, which over the years led to other groundbreaking heart treatments. Ferrer also spent 33 years as director of Presbyterian Hospital's electrocardiographic lab, and she worked with IBM to develop the first software for the computer interpretation of the electrocardiogram (EKG), which offered a clearer more immediate reading of the test.
Ferrer spent 35 years at Columbia. She was named assistant professor in 1951 and professor of clinical medicine in 1972. She became professor emeritus in 1981 and continued in private practice until 1995. She also served as editor in chief of Current Cardiology and The Journal of the American Medical Women's Association.
Born in Elberon, New Jersey , Ferrer graduated from the Convent of the Scared Heart in New York and Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She received her medical degree from Columbia's College of Physicians & Surgeons in 1941.
She is survived by her brother, Mel Ferrer, of California. Her legacy continues through the M. Irene Ferrer Professorship in Gender Specific Medicine at Columbia.