Kidney transplant expert Dr. Barbara Murphy dies at 56

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Dr Barbara Murphy, a leading nephrologist specializing in advanced research focused on predicting and diagnosing kidney transplant outcomes, died Wednesday at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Hospital, where she had worked since 1997. She was 56 years old. years.

The cause was glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, said her husband, Peter Fogarty.

Dr. Murphy blended her passion for research in the immunology of kidney transplants with her role, since 2012, as chair of the Department of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (and its broader healthcare system). She was the first woman appointed to head a department of medicine at an academic medical center in New York City.

“In baseball, we’re talking about five-tool players,” said Dr. Dennis S. Charney, dean of the Icahn School, over the phone. “I don’t know how many tools she had, but she was a very strong administrator, a great researcher and a great mentor to a lot of people. “

Dr Murphy, originally from Ireland, developed her interest in kidney transplantation while attending medical school at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. She was particularly drawn to how it transformed the lives of patients.

“I like to see how well the patients are afterwards”, she told Irish America magazine in 2016. “For all the years that I have practiced in this profession, the interaction between a living donor and a recipient in the recovery room always makes me proud to be a doctor and to play a role in such a rewarding time.

After being recruited to Mount Sinai in 1997, she joined other researchers to examine the role of HIV in kidney disease and helped establish the viability of kidney transplants for HIV patients. In a speech to the Royal College in 2018, she recalled that there had been criticism of such transplants – as if there was a “moral hierarchy when it comes to donor kidneys.”

She added: “Two weeks ago we received an email from one of our patients thanking us for her 15th anniversary of kidney transplant.”

More recently, Dr. Murphy’s research in her Mount Sinai lab has focused on the genetics and genomics of predicting transplant outcomes and why some kidneys are rejected.

In results reported in The Lancet in 2016, she and her colleagues said they identified a set of 13 genes that predicted which patients would later develop fibrosis, a hallmark of chronic kidney disease and, ultimately, irreversible damage to the transplanted organ. Being able to predict which patients were at risk, they wrote, would allow treatment to prevent fibrosis.

His research was licensed to two companies. One, Verici DX, which is still in the validation testing phase before commercial sales, is developing RNA signature tests to determine how a patient responds and will respond to a transplant. The other company, Renalytix, uses an artificial intelligence-driven algorithm to identify a kidney disease risk score for patients. Dr. Murphy has served on the boards of directors of both companies.

“Barbara has been the lifeblood of Verici,” Sara Barrington, CEO of the company, said by phone. She added: “Her lab will continue to file new findings from her basic research.”

Barbara Therese Murphy was born on October 15, 1964 in South Dublin. His father, John, owned an air freight business and his mother, Anne (Duffy) Murphy, worked with him and also designed bridal wear.

At the age of 4, Dr Murphy recalled in a speech at an Irish America sponsored healthcare awards dinner in 2016 that she had had to overcome the harsh judgment of a teacher .

“My elementary school teacher told my mother that I was a dunce and that I would never be anything, and besides, she shouldn’t even try,” she said. “Fortunately, my parents persevered.”

After graduating from the Royal College in Medicine in 1989, Dr Murphy completed his residency and nephrology fellowship at Beaumont Hospital, also in Dublin. She was also a nephrology fellow in the renal division of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where she trained in transplant immunology.

In 1997, she was recruited to Mount Sinai as director of transplant nephrology by then-head of the nephrology division Dr. Paul Klotman, who promoted her to his old post in 2003 after becoming chair of the department. of Icahn Medicine.

“She showed a lot of promise in transplant nephrology, which was emerging at the time,” Dr Klotman, now president of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said by phone. “Over the years, she developed good leadership skills: she was very organized and task-oriented.

In the spring of 2020, Dr Murphy, like other doctors, noted with concern that Covid-19 was much more than a respiratory disease. This caused an increase in kidney failure which resulted in a shortage of machines, supplies and personnel needed for emergency dialysis.

The number of patients requiring dialysis “is an order of magnitude greater than the number of patients we normally dialysis,” she told The New York Times.

One of Mount Sinai’s responses to the May pandemic was to open the Post-Covid care center for patients recovered from the virus. At the time, Mount Sinai had treated more than 8,000 patients diagnosed with Covid-19.

“Barbara was instrumental in the formation of the center,” said Dr Charney, “and she was involved in the follow-up with regards to kidney disease caused by Covid.”

Dr. Murphy received the American Society of Transplantation Young Investigator Award in Basic Sciences in 2003 and was named Nephrologist of the Year by the American Kidney Fund in 2011. Upon his death, she was president elect from the American Society of Nephrology.

Along with her husband, Dr. Murphy is survived by their son, Gavin; his sister, Dr. Céline Murphy, cardiologist who works in occupational health; her brother, Dr. Kieran Murphy, interventional neuroradiologist; and his parents.

Dr Murphy said she learned an indelible lesson about the need for a strong patient-doctor relationship while still in medical school.

“The stock market alone was not enough,” she said at the Irish America awards ceremony. “An example: If we had a patient with rheumatoid arthritis and we were holding his hand and he grimaced, it didn’t matter what we knew about the disease or how to treat it, we would have failed our test because that we had not taken into account the general well-being of the patient.



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