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Kidney Doctor in Demand

  Alumni Profile  

While classmates were changing majors and exploring career options, Daniel Brennan '81 says his interest in medicine was unwavering.

"I've wanted to be a doctor since I was a zygote," he says. "I was in fifth grade when I realized I wanted to do transplantation. I can't remember not wanting to do this."

Brennan, who earned a chemistry degree from Cornell, did indeed become a physician. After med school, an internship, and residency at the University of Iowa, he completed research and clinical fellowships at Harvard Medical School Brigham and Women's Hospital. In 1993, after a year as acting medical director of kidney and kidney/ pancreas transplant at the University of Nebraska, he moved to St. Louis to start and direct the transplant nephrology department at Washington University School of Medicine. Brennan is a transplant nephrologist, rather than a surgeon. "Surgeons do the operation and I take care of the patients for the rest of their lives," he explains. "That works out for everyone. I sew sutures so slowly they clock me with a calendar."

In addition to teaching at Washington University, Brennan conducts ongoing research, serves on the editorial boards of nine medical journals, and is in frequent demand as a visiting professor and as a speaker at national/ international meetings. The National Kidney Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the American Heart Association have honored his work.

"I've wanted to be a doctor since I was a zygote," says Daniel Brennan '81.

While Brennan typically works 80 to 100 hours weekly, he remains devoted to his four children, ages 9 to 16, and his wife, Susan Kozal Brennan '82. The Brennans met at Cornell when she visited the campus as a prospective student.

"Friends of mine introduced us," he recalls. "I thought-and I still think-she was the most incredibly beautiful woman I'd ever seen."

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