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CHOP Nephrologist Recognized for Dedication to Advancing Careers of Women in Medicine

Published on November 27, 2020 in Cornerstone Blog · Last Updated 4 months 3 weeks ago


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Susan Furth, MD, PhD

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Susan Furth, MD, PhD, is passionate about training others and seeing them succeed.

That devotion led Dr. Furth, who is the vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics and chief of the Division of Nephrology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, to receive this year’s FOCUS Award for the Advancement of Women in Medicine.

The award recognizes a faculty member at Penn Medicine whose outstanding efforts and achievements have promoted the career success, leadership, and overall quality of life for Penn women in academic medicine. Dr. Furth is also a professor of Pediatrics and Epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

“It is an honor and immensely gratifying to receive an award that was largely based on the recognition of what I’ve been trying to do most of my career — paying forward the kind of mentoring I received,” Dr. Furth said. “I’m proud of the individuals I have mentored, and I have been amazed and impressed by seeing them grow and achieve such remarkable things.”

Dr. Furth is committed to predoctoral and postdoctoral training, and she has personally trained dozens of postdoctoral fellows and mentored numerous junior faculty. Her mentees have included adult and pediatric nephrologists, rheumatologists, intensivists, and urologists from institutions across the country. Her relationships with her mentees have facilitated research careers for multiple junior faculty.

In 2016, Dr. Furth received Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Faculty Mentor Award, and in 2019, she received the Society for Pediatric Research Maureen Andrews Mentoring Award. Dr. Furth also has held a K24 Mentoring Award in Patient Oriented research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for 10 years. Her mentees, many of whom are women, have gone on to become independent NIH-funded researchers, division chiefs, transplant center directors, and fellowship and residency program directors.

“In medicine, and other science, technology, and engineering fields, we don’t see as many women leaders,” Dr. Furth said. “They’re absolutely there, just not always visible. Sometimes, when younger women can’t see that, they think they can’t be that. I advise people to take risks, and raise their hands for things, like leadership opportunities or challenges.”

Dr. Furth credits several mentors for her success. She trained with Frank Oski, MD, in Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University. Barbara Fivush, MD, also at Johns Hopkins, served as a valuable mentor during her fellowship in Nephrology. Dr. Furth also credits Neil Powe, MD, MPH, currently at University of California, San Francisco, for mentorship during her research fellowship.

“I would also like to say what a remarkable place CHOP is, and credit the leadership in the Department of Pediatrics for promoting the careers of all the faculty,” Dr. Furth said. “It’s not just about gender. CHOP focuses on opportunities for trainees, junior faculty, and attending physicians, regardless of race or gender, to promote the talent that we have in this department.”

Dr. Furth is the principal investigator of the NIH Chronic Kidney Disease in Children study, which is in its 17th year and is the largest and longest running multicenter prospective cohort study of children with chronic kidney disease ever conducted in North America. She is also the principal investigator of the Pediatric Center of Excellence in Nephrology at CHOP, whose goal is to address and overcome barriers to clinical trials implementation in children with kidney disease.