In Memory of James Brian Martins, MD

The department learned this week of the passing of James Martins, MD, professor emeritus of Internal Medicine, earlier this month at the age of 77. Martins arrived at the University of Iowa in 1971 for residency just after completing his medical degree at the University of Illinois in Chicago. A cardiology fellowship here was followed by a career rising through the ranks to full professor in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. A leader within the department, the division, and at the Iowa City VA Medical Center, Martins directed the clinical cardiac electrophysiology (EP) training program, was chief of cardiology at the VA, and directed the EP service at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics as well.

His research while at Iowa focused on the autonomic influences on ventricular electrophysiologic properties and dysrhythmias in normal, hypertrophied, and ischemic myocardium. Before retirement, Martins had published more than 100 articles in high-impact, peer-reviewed journals such as Circulation, Heart Rhythm, the New England Journal of Medicine, and many others. These studies attempted to show that autonomic and hemodynamic influences play a major role in the development of malignant ventricular arrhythmias. As compassionate a humanitarian as he was a generous educator, Martins traveled around the world with Sylvia, his wife of 55 years, on medical teaching missions.

After retirement, Martins returned to Chicago, where he was active in his church and with the Chicago Master Singers. Our condolences go out to his two children, his four grandchildren, and all those who had the good fortune to know him, work with him, and learn from him. His local obituary states that there will be a celebration of life at a later date:

Memorial offerings may be made to Gideons International, American Heart Association, 7272 Greenville Ave. Dallas, TX 75231, or Northbrook Covenant Church, 2737 Techny Road, Northbrook, IL 60062. Family and friends are invited to share memories and condolences online at

Spring 1986

Update: In addition to the thoughtful comments below this post, we also received a number of comments on our Facebook post. Dr. Jamie Rutland wrote that he remembers Martins “so fondly,” calling him a “great man.” Christine Schwab wrote, “I remember his gentle nature so well.” Dr. Kevin Dellsperger remembers being interviewed by Martins for residency here. “He will be missed by many,” he wrote.

4 Responses

  1. Kevin Dellsperger

    I am saddened to hear of the passing of a great teacher and colleague. I’ll never forget Jim interviewing me for residency in the EP lab due to an emergency. It showed his deep devotion to residents, fellows and teaching. A big loss. My deepest condolences to Sylvia and his family.

  2. Nicolas Shammas

    I am saddened to hear about the passing of Dr James Martins. I had the fortune to work with him as a resident and later as an interventional fellow when I was at the University/VA. I remember him as a compassionate and superb cardiologist who truly cared about his patients and advancing our field. He will be missed. RIP.

  3. drvonk

    I am profoundly sad for your loss. Jim was a brilliant cardiologist, researcher, and wonderful friend. He embraced his work and his personal life with passion and integrity. I loved his humor and insights. Blessings to his family and all his friends in this very difficult transition.
    Brian Vonk, MD

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