Columbia Engineering Mourns the Passing of Biomedical Engineer Alan Kaganov

Feb 20 2019 | By Maggie Hughes

Alan Kaganov Eng.Sc.D. ’74 passed away in his home in Los Altos Hills on February 2, 2019 after a battle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was 80 years old.

A pioneer in biomedical engineering, Kaganov began making advancements in the field before biomedical engineering was even a department at Columbia. Over the course of his trailblazing career, Kaganov held 15 US patents and helped develop treatments for several conditions including heart arrhythmia, internal issues, spinal and circulatory disease, and drug-delivery systems.

Kaganov was born in 1938 in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in Miami Beach, FL, where he attended high school. He began his collegiate studies at Duke University and graduated with a BS in mechanical engineering in 1960. After a brief stint working at Johnson & Johnson, during which he also earned his MBA from New York University, Kaganov decided to elevate his technical engineering training. Passionate about the field of healthcare, Kaganov enrolled in a unique doctorate program at Columbia University–one customized for him by three department chairs. At the time, there was no formal curriculum in biomedical engineering, thus Kaganov completed his studies in chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and biology/physiology, which required him to pass three separate doctoral exams.

Kaganov’s dedication to healthcare innovation spans multiple decades and numerous companies. After completing his doctorate in the mid-1970s, Kaganov spent the next 20 years developing new technologies at both major medical device companies as well as start-ups, transitioning from R&D positions to strategic management. After gaining industry experience at American Cyanamid, Baxter Healthcare, and Boston Scientific, in 1996, Kaganov joined US Ventures partners where served as venture partner, partner, and senior advisor.  

In his role as a venture capitalist and an advisor on numerous distinguished boards, including the Columbia Engineering Board of Visitors, Kaganov not only capitalized on his talents as an insightful and strategic thinker, but also brought passion, optimism, and enthusiasm to his work.

His legacy at Columbia Engineering lives on through the Alan and Carol Kaganov Professorship of Biomedical Engineering, which he generously established along with his wife Carol to promote and support excellence in the field. Devoted patrons of the arts, the Kaganovs made a point of engaging directly with the rich cultural life wherever they lived, including New York, Chicago, Boston, and the Bay Area.

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Carol Kaufman, his siblings, nieces and nephews, and eight grand-nieces and nephews.