Ernest L. Millar, 73, a former coach of the U.S. Olympic canoe team and a researcher in communicable diseases at the National Institutes of Health, died Sunday after a heart attack at his home in Chevy Chase.

A winner of several President Cup canocing regattas, Mr. Millar coached the U.S. Olympic canoe team in the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Italy.

He was also a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and instrumental in gaining Olympic committee ratification of several women's events for the Olympics. He also lobbied to get women accepted into the Washington Canoe Club.

Mr. Millar was a member of a committee that organized the North American Canoe Racing Championships, an annual regatta between champion canoeists of Canada and the United States.

At 65, he successfully shot the rapids at Little Falls above Chain Bridge on the Potomac.

A graduate of Eastern High School and a native of Washington, Mr. Millar did research at NIH in communicable diseases.

He accidentally contracted psittacosis, commonly known at parrot fever, while conducting tests there. He recovered, and scientists since have determined the cause and cure of the desease.

Mr. Millar retired from NIH in 1950 and became co-owner of several private medical laboratories in the Washington area and one in the Bahamas. He retired from the laboratories after selling them in the early 1970s.

Mr. Millar was a past president of the Potomac Boat Club, an honorary and active life member of the Washington Canoe Club, and a member of the President's Cup Committee.

He is survived by his wife, Gladys, of the home; two daughters, Marjorie MacEachen, of Newburg, Md., and Joan Drasen, of Racine, Wis: his mother, Frances Millar, of Bethesda; 15 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.