In Memoriam: Dr. Barbara Murphy
“Our jobs are not about circumstances of birth. We are all here because of what we ourselves have done. You don’t become part of transplantation because your ancestors made some earth-shattering discovery. You are here because of your drive to achieve, your desire to help and your efforts to learn.” – Barbara Murphy, 2009 Presidential Address
With great sadness, we announce the passing of previous AST President, Dr. Barbara T. Murphy, who passed away on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. She was 56 years of age. Barbara's commitment to transplantation inspired so many of us, and her passing has left a huge void in our community.
Dr. Murphy was awarded the Young Investigator Award in Basic Science by the American Society of Transplantation in 2003 and just six years later served as President of the Society in 2008-9. During her term as President, she played a pivotal role in the AST’s advocacy efforts, pushing for the passage of the Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act. She met with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and arranged the first Board of Directors meeting in DC - paving the way for regular fly-ins to advocate for transplant issues. Barbara was passionate about work that directly impacted patient access to healthcare and long-term coverage for immunosuppression.
She was committed to raising awareness about the importance of transplant research funding, organ donation, and transplant health. To raise public awareness, she worked on a partnership with the Jamie Redford Foundation (JRI) to hold the “Share the Beat” event. This event was a concert in Boston at Symphony Hall, featuring John Williams and Boston Pops, Phil Vassar, and hosted by James Denton.
Donor families and recipients shared their stories at the event, and the funds raised supported transplant research and JRI’s education program to teach young people about transplantation. These efforts eventually led to the AST’s creation of the Power2Save initiative.
Barbara was a huge advocate for education and played a significant role in expanding the AST’s Fellows Symposium in Transplantation. She championed for the AST to provide additional funds and resources to this meeting, allowing for higher attendance and multi-disciplinary attendance at the program.
She also supported the AST Annual Scientific Exchange, a midyear meeting primarily to engage research. This meeting later evolved into the Cutting Edge of Transplantation (CEoT), held in Phoenix, AZ each year.
She held several leadership roles within the AST, including the Board of Directors, Public Policy Committee, Education Committee, AJT Management Committee, Grants Committee, and the ATC Planning Committee.
As a leader in transplantation, Barbara played a significant role in several academic areas. She was the principal investigator of the Genomics of Chronic Renal Allograft Rejection (GoCar) study, which used gene expression microarray panel to identify which transplant recipients are at greater risk of developing fibrosis in their allografts. This study has helped clinicians prevent the loss of their patients' kidneys and led to the launch of the biotechnology company Verici Dx. Furthermore, she was a co-investigator on the study investigating outcomes in HIV-positive patients that receive solid organ transplants.
Barbara was the Murray M. Rosenberg Professor of Medicine and department chair for the Mount Sinai Health System. She was also dean of Clinical Integration and Population Health for the New York system’s Icahn School of Medicine. She was highly regarded by her colleagues and patients and the recipient of countless achievement awards.
She was President-Elect at the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) and would have been the first person to serve as President for both societies.
Her brilliance and kindness touched so many of us – not only as a colleague but also as a mentor and friend. Our community will never forget her energy and enthusiasm, which was reflected in all she did for her patients.
Please share your memories of Barbara in the comments section below.