Kathy McDonough Retires 

Patricia Molina, M.D., Ph.D.
Department Head Physiology

Summer ended with a memorable event for Physiology at LSUHSC as Dr. Kathy McDonough retired on August 31st. Though she now moves to a new stage in her life, dedicated to her husband, children, travel, and reading she leaves an indelible mark on the lives of so many that were fortunate to be her students, mentees, colleagues, and friends. Kathy received her PhD in Physiology from the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO in 1977. Her dissertation focused on “Transmural Metabolic and Blood Flow Changes in Porcine and Canine Hearts after Circumflex Artery Occlusion.” She went on to complete her postdoctoral training under Dr. James R. Neely at the Pennsylvania State University Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. In 1979, Dr. McDonough joined the Department of Physiology at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) as a research assistant professor. She progressed through the academic ranks at LSUHSC, becoming an assistant professor on the tenure track in 1982, associate professor in 1986, and professor in 1994. With Dr. John Spitzer’s retirement in 2001, she was appointed Interim Head of the Department of Physiology, a position she held until 2002 when Dr. Bill Chilian was recruited to head the department of Physiology. Dr. McDonough’s effectiveness and esteem in these roles led to her appointment as Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at LSUHSC in 2003, a position that she would ultimately hold for nearly 15 years.

During her 48+ years at LSUHSC beginning in 1979, Kathy concurrently served in many positions and capacities.  During her time as Professor in the Department of Physiology and Associate Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, she also served as Course Director for the Biological Systems Course (2005-2017), Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pediatrics (2008-2017), and Interim Head of the Department of Genetics for two years (2012-2014). She was also Director of the MD/PhD program, Director of the Interdisciplinary Program, and Director of the Master’s in Biomedical Sciences Program. Since 1986, Dr. McDonough has served on nearly 50 PhD and master’s degree committees and directed eight thesis/dissertation committees.

Dr. McDonough received extramural support for her research from eight grants funded by the American Heart Association (AHA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Louisiana Board of Regents, and the Department of Defense during the period between 1981 and 2008. In addition, she participated in the NIH/NIAAA-funded Alcohol Research Center grant awarded to Dr. John Spitzer, serving as Principal Investigator of the Pilot Project (1993-1995), Director of the Animal Core (1993-1998), and Co-Director of the Animal Core (1998-2003).

In addition to these commitments, Dr. McDonough served on the Admissions Committee for more than 20 years, the Graduate Advisory Committee of Graduate Studies for 6 years, and the Graduate Committee of the Department of Physiology for 10 years.  She served on the Faculty Assembly for 2 terms (nearly 10 years), holding the role of Secretary/Treasurer for 4 years during her first term (1991-1997) and President for 1 year during her second term (1998-2001). In addition to these commitments, she served on many other committees, including the Oversight Subcommittee of the Curriculum Committee, the Professionalism Subcommittee, the Appointments and Promotions Committee, the Task Force for LCME accreditation (Chair of the Faculty Committee), and multiple faculty and administration search committees.

Those who worked with her or benefited from her mentorship refer to her as a rock, a Mom, a confidant, a sister. Words can’t begin to describe her dedication, patience, and simple generosity with her time and knowledge that benefited so many of us current and past trainees. I was fortunate to have been her student, colleague, and in the later years friend. The entire department will miss walking uninvited through her open door whenever they felt they needed someone with whom to talk. No training, remodeling, or renovation can recreate the safe haven she provided for students and colleagues. We are grateful for her contributions to our department, institution, and more importantly programs like the IDP and MD/PhD. They have grown, flourished, and succeeded because of her dedication and hard work. We wish her health, joy, and love in this new phase of her life.