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Patrick “Pat” Brophy

Remembering Patrick “Pat” Brophy, a transformational leader, whose focus was always on the children.

Patrick (“Pat”) D. Brophy, MD, MHCDS, beloved husband, father, brother, friend, and leader, left us all too soon on October 6, 2023, after a long battle with lymphoma. While the facts of his life can be readily stated, the impact of his life and contributions are immeasurable and ongoing.

Born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan, Pat received his medical degree in 1994 from the College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan, Canada, and then completed a residency in Pediatrics (including a chief resident year) at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. From there, he went to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he completed a fellowship in Pediatric Nephrology at the University of Michigan. During his fellowship, he worked in the laboratory of Gregory Dressler, PhD, where he studied the role of PAX-2 in kidney development. After completion of his fellowship, Pat was appointed to the faculty of the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, where he continued his work in the laboratory and developed an interest in acute kidney injury (AKI) and continuous renal replacement therapies, becoming one of the founders of the Prospective Pediatric Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (ppCRRT) Registry, one of the first multicenter efforts aimed at improving outcomes for children with AKI.

It was during his tenure at the University of Michigan that Pat’s innate leadership abilities were recognized, and in 2008, he was recruited by Dr. Jean Robillard to come to the University of Iowa to rebuild the Pediatric Nephrology program there as Director of the Division of Pediatric Nephrology at the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital. He rose quickly through the academic ranks at the University of Iowa, eventually serving as the Jean E. Robillard MD, Chair in Pediatric Nephrology from 2014 to 2017. While serving as Director of the Division of Pediatric Nephrology, Pat sought additional education in the business of healthcare, ultimately receiving a Master of Healthcare Delivery Sciences from the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, in 2013. This led to his appointment as Assistant Vice President of eHealth & Innovation, University of Iowa Healthcare and co-CEO of University of Iowa Health System in 2014, a position that he held until 2017.

Pat’s leadership while at the University of Iowa was transformative. He rebuilt the Pediatric Nephrology Division from the ground up, recruiting several key faculty members who are now leaders in our field themselves, including Carla Nester, MD, Jennifer Jetton, MD, and Lyndsay Harshman, MD. And all throughout this period, he maintained his focus on making sure that each child with kidney disease received the care they needed. As stated by Dr. Harshman* “Pat’s presence was transformational … every day was truly about the KIDS for Pat. We were uniquely blessed to see this firsthand at the University of Iowa. For example, one year a fresh transplant recipient had been discharged on Christmas Eve and upon arrival home, realized they had no mycophenolate. Pat drove over 4 h to ensure that the patient had medication. It wasn't about Pat, it was about the kids. This wasn't just a one-off, this was Pat each and every day … Pat had a profound way of connecting with patients – understanding deeply when to invoke a laugh or when to simply just listen. Everyone on the team was a valued member of the team, not just the physicians and nurses, but the unit clerks and housekeepers. He believed each person has a unique value. He believed in the beauty of harnessing untapped potential to effect positive change.”

In 2017, Pat left the University of Iowa to become the William H. Ellinger Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY, and Physician-in-Chief/CEO of the Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Again, his leadership was transformational, revitalizing the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester and strengthening the bonds between Golisano Children’s Hospital and the greater Rochester community. While serving these leadership roles locally, Pat also served as President of the American Society of Pediatric Nephrology, as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Board of Pediatrics, and as Program Chair for the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting. He continued to collaborate on numerous clinical and research projects, and to mentor junior faculty and colleagues locally and nationally. According to Dr. Jennifer Jetton* “He was the greatest advocate/ally/sponsor a junior faculty could ask for. He pushed me out of my comfort zone but made sure he was there when I needed help. He believed in me and helped me believe in myself. He continued to support my career and me over the years, even after he left Iowa for Rochester and beyond, and for that I am grateful … he was an incredible role model in the way he cared for the kids and their families and the way he cared for his team.”

Internationally, in addition to being a frequent invited speaker at international conferences, he was a Councilor of the International Pediatric Nephrology Association and helped to develop Pediatric Nephrology services in Jamaica. Here again, his focus was on the children. As described by Dr. Melvin Bonilla-Felix*, “I had the privilege of spending one week with Pat and Martin Bitzan teaching in Jamaica. We visited more than 6 hospitals in 1 week. In addition to teaching students, residents and pediatricians, Pat met with the Minister of Health and several administrators advocating for children with kidney diseases and discussing the importance of supporting pediatric dialysis programs. He was a strong supporter of ALANEPE and was an invited speaker in many of our meetings.”

We often talk about the “triple threat” in academic medicine—someone who is an outstanding clinician, performs and publishes innovative research, and is a dedicated and effective teacher. Pat was all of that and more. He had unsurpassed emotional intelligence and always kept his eye on the prize of improving care for children with kidney disease. He was a skilled and inspirational administrator, able to bring people together to achieve common goals. His work and vision transcended the organizational boundaries often found in healthcare. As stated by Dr. Aaron Friedman*, “Years ago my mentor, Russell Chesney … made a case for pediatric nephrologists taking on broader roles and leadership roles within the pediatrics community, academic communities, and international fora. He argued that such involvement, while probably nice for the individual, helped the pediatric nephrology community by providing our point of view and providing a window for others into our community [pediatrics and nephrology]; helped the broader community through exposure to pediatric nephrology and helped make the case for pediatric nephrology as a vital part of these broader communities. Pat did this … We owe a debt of gratitude to Pat for bringing us to other communities.”

The next stage in Pat’s career was intended to be a return to Saskatchewan as Provincial Head, Department of Pediatrics, at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital at the University of Saskatchewan, a position he assumed in May 2023. There he would have been the leader of a relatively young Children’s Hospital that had just opened in 2019. Unfortunately, Pat experienced a recurrence of lymphoma, and passed away several months later despite returning to the University of Rochester (where he had previously been treated for an earlier recurrence) for treatment. Pat is survived by his wife Jodi, his sons Joe and Mike, his brother Desmond, and by the many patients and colleagues whose lives he forever changed.

*Quotations are taken from posts to the PEDNEPH listserv, October 2023, and are used with permission of the individuals quoted.

Authors and Affiliations

Source: Remembering Patrick “Pat” Brophy, a transformational leader, whose focus was always on the children | Pediatric Nephrology (springer.com)

Received: 29 January 2024 / Revised: 29 January 2024 / Accepted: 29 January 2024
© The Author(s), under exclusive license to International Pediatric Nephrology Association 2024

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