Barbara T. Murphy, MD, MB, BAO, BCh, FRCPI
October 15, 1964 - June 30, 2021
It is with tremendous sorrow that we inform you of the passing of our beloved colleague, Barbara T. Murphy, MD, MB, BAO, BCh, FRCPI.
A world-renowned and award-winning nephrologist and researcher, Dr. Murphy was also a trailblazer. In 2012, she became the first female Chair of a Department of Medicine at an academic medical center in New York City and, at the time, was only the second female Chair of any Department at a top 20 medical school in the United States. Her extraordinary resume, however, does not fully represent or encapsulate the deep and lasting impression, she made on her colleagues, friends, and mentees throughout the Mount Sinai Health System, greater medical community in New York and globally in the nephrology community.
Hailing from South Dublin, Ireland, Dr. Murphy attended medical school at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. While there, she was inspired to pursue a career in treating and researching kidney disease and transplant immunology by a young dialysis patient who received a second chance at life after a successful kidney transplant. This passion led her to the United States, where she completed a nephrology fellowship at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
In 1997, Dr. Murphy was recruited to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai as Director of Transplant Nephrology and—just six years later—was named the division Chief of Nephrology, becoming one of the youngest division Chiefs in the United States. In 2012, she became the Chair of the Samuel Bronfman Department of Medicine, one of the few women at the time to hold the title, and in 2013, she subsequently led as Chair of the Department of Medicine for the entire Mount Sinai Health System and Dean for Clinical Integration and Population Health.
As a researcher, Dr. Murphy focused on genetics and genomics in transplantation. Her discoveries have led to renal transplantation in HIV-positive patients becoming standard of care. She conducted ground breaking research using high-throughput genomic technologies to understand the immune mechanisms leading to graft injury and loss. Importantly, she aimed to identify gene expression profiles or genetic variants that would predict patients' risk for disease. Dr. Murphy's laboratory took a systems biology approach to identifying genetic drivers of fibrosis; this has had important implications for kidney transplantation and eventually an enormous impact on all organ transplantation.
Dr. Murphy was also an innovator and inventor. In addition to her roles within the Health System, in 2018, she was Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for RenalytixAI, an artificial intelligence-enabled in vitro diagnostics company that collaborates with Mount Sinai in seeking to improve chronic kidney disease detection, management, and treatment. And, in 2020, she became a co-founder and board member of Verici Dx, a pioneering company focused on advanced clinical diagnostics in organ transplantation.
Dr. Murphy was the President-Elect of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) and was named in June as the recipient of the ASN's Trailblazer Award, a lifetime achievement award for her work on advocacy, mentorship and breaking barriers in nephrology and medicine. She is a past president of the American Society of Transplantation (AST) and served on Executive Committee of the American Transplant Congress. She received the AST Young Investigator Award in Basic Science in 2003. She spent much of her career advocating for those disadvantaged who had no access to kidney transplantation, such as HIV infected patients and urging the federal government to provide extended drug coverage for transplant recipients. She was most proud of her advocacy work and direct impact on patient care.
Among her many honors, she was named Nephrologist of the Year in 2011 by the American Kidney Fund; among The Annual Irish America Healthcare and Life Science 50 in 2016; and as one of the Crain's New York "Notable Women in Health Care" in 2018. She has received numerous honorary doctoral degrees from universities and medical schools.
A visionary leader and stalwart champion for the Department of Medicine and Nephrology, Dr. Murphy never stopped planning to make the things better, stronger, and more inclusive. She was thrilled by the successes and achievements of her colleagues and friends. She was admired by faculty, colleagues, staff, and trainees for her enormous integrity, energy, generosity, and her wicked sense of humour. Dr. Murphy was a mentor to many and a role model to all.
In spring of 2020, Dr. Murphy commanded incredibly effective oversight of the medical care provided at the Mount Sinai Health System and organized delivery of excellent care with resource shortages and ensured safety of patients, faculty, staff and trainees in the epicenter of COVID-19. She was profoundly grateful for the sacrifices of her colleagues and had immense pride of their combined efforts during the pandemic.
She was a loving wife to Peter Fogarty and doting mother to their son, Gavin; She cared deeply for her parents, John and Anne Murphy; her sister, Dr. Celine Murphy; her brother, Dr. Kieran Murphy and his wife Dr. Rulan Parekh; and adored her niece Anya and nephew Ronan as well her extended Murphy, Duffy and Fogarty families and friends. A special thanks to her close friend Dr. Marla Keller. She will be sincerely missed.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks to donate to causes important to Dr. Murphy in her honor.
https://www.myast.org/donate for patient advocacy at the American Society of Transplantation; or
https://www.kidneycure.org for funding fellows and PhD students in kidney research at the American Society of Nephrology;
or https://www.smiletrain.org for children born with a cleft lip or palate.
A memorial will be held in her honor at a future date.
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