Faculty

Dr. Barbara Ballermann

Professor and Chair

Department of Medicine

Division of Nephrology

About Me

I am a graduate of the University of Alberta (B.Sc. 1973) and the University of Calgary (M.D., 1976).  I did my clinical training in Internal Medicine and Nephrology (1976-1981)  at the Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University Montreal.  I was very fortunate to be able to train as a research fellow in Nephrology at Harvard Medical School (1981-1983) under the mentorship of Dr. Barry Brenner, a hard taskmaster who nonetheless was instrumental in helping me to succeed as a clinician scientist.  My first faculty appointment was as Instructor in Medicine (1983-1985) at Harvard Medical School in Boston.  I moved back to Canada very briefly as Assistant Professor of Medicine at McGill University (1985-1986) but then returned to Harvard (1986-1990), also as Assistant Professor, because it offered much greater protection of time for research.  In 1990 I became Associate Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and Adjunct Associate Professor of Pathology in 1996.   I was tenured and promoted to Professor of Medicine and Pathology at Hopkins in 1999.  My years at Hopkins allowed me to establish full independence as an investigator, and I developed strong collaborative friendships in Cardiovascular research and Pathology.  The environment at Hopkins was also particularly rich in clinical medicine and medical education.  From 2000-2003 I was Professor in Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. My time in New York allowed me to interact with two outstanding glomerular cell biologists, Peter Mundel and Erwin Bottinger.   Though I witnessed the destruction of the World Trade Towers on September 11th 2001 first-hand, I loved living in New York, I loved the city's cultural life, and found the clinical group at Montefiore, our main teaching hospital, to be particularly strong and dedicated. My many years in the USA gave me a great appreciation for the entrepreneurial spirit and the fearless pursuit of excellence, but even so, there always was the wish to return to Canada.  

In 2003 I finally made it back to Canada as Professor of Medicine and Director of the Division of Nephrology at the University of Alberta.  Then, in 2010,  I was appointed Chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta, and AHS Head of the Clinical Department of Medicine for the Edmonton Zone  I am currently serving my second term in this position.

Throughout my career, I have  maintained an active role as a biomedical researcher and as a teacher of Clinical Medicine, Renal Physiology and Pathophysiology.  I was a clinical Nephrologist for most of my career, but gave up clinical work in 2011 because of the large demands on my time in my current administrative role.  Over the years, I played a role in several formal career development programs, first as a member of the Task Force on the Careers of Women in Academic Medicine at Hopkins and then as a Faculty member in the the Career Development Program of the American Society of Nephrology.  My research lab is still active with several graduate students.   

I have been fortunate to hold independent research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Heart Association, the National Kidney Foundation (USA), and since my return to Canada from the CIHR, NSERC, the Kidney Foundation of Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.  I still review manuscripts and grants, including the CIHR, and am a member of the Medical Review Panel of the Gairdner Foundation.

Over the years I have been recognized by a few awards, for instance the Young Scholar Award from the American Society of Hypertension (1989), the Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association (1992) and a Canada Research Chair in Endothelial Cell Biology (2004).  I was also was elected to membership of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (1994), the Interurban Clinical Club (1997) and most recently the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences (2014).  From 2008 until 2010 I was President of the Canadian Society of Nephrology. 

For those who might read this, I want to say that I feel privileged and fortunate to have been able to study Medicine and to combine research, clinical service and teaching in my career.  Medicine has been richly rewarding not only because of the patients I have been able to help, the many students and research trainees I have been able to mentor and the incredible developments I have been able to witness in medical research, but also because of the many friendships I have been able to forge.  At the beginning of this journey, I really had no clue how rich this life in Medicine could be.  To my mentors, especially Henry Mandin (U of C), John Seely (McGill), Barry Brenner (Harvard) and Vic Schuster (Einstein) I want to say thank you.  To those who currently support my work, especially Barb Hiscock, Sonia Gisenya, Orlene Brow, Gloria Jichita, Francois Bouman, Andrea Cliff, Len Wong, the Associate and Assistant Department Chairs and the Division Chiefs, Thank You!  

To those who are just starting out: don't worry about embarking on this adventure.  Let it unfold - you will be the richer for it.