Rodanthi Kitridou, MD, FACP, MACR, professor of medicine and one of my mentors during my fellowship at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center (now known as Los Angeles General Medical Center), in the early 1990s, passed away July 6 after a long illness.
Dr. Kitridou was born in Greece in 1938 and obtained her medical degree from the University of Athens. She completed residency and rheumatology training at Hahnemann University Hospital (now known as Drexel University), Philadelphia, and the University of Pennsylvania before joining the Rheumatology Division at LAC-USC Medical Center as directress of clinical rheumatology.
A true trailblazer, Dr. Kitridou was one of the first women physicians with formal fellowship training in rheumatology. Her dedication to patient care and dedication to educating fellows to become outstanding clinicians were hallmarks of her career. Fellows trained by Dr. Kitridou have been nationally recognized for the same passion, kindness and commitment that characterized her own life.
Dr. Kitridou was a passionate and devoted patient advocate. She took time to talk with patients, always providing compassion and excellent clinical care in equal measure. Her patients were appreciative and equally devoted; I recall seeing a clinic patient with lupus who had moved to northern California, but rather than establishing with a new rheumatologist the patient would fly to Los Angeles every few months to continue to see Dr. Kitridou.
In recognition of her outstanding commitment to patient care, she was honored with a Humanitarian Award from, and an Honorary Life Membership in, the Lupus Foundation of America.
Dr. Kitridou’s talents went beyond patient care. She loved teaching and educated more than a hundred rheumatology fellows over the years with the same care, exactitude, and passion that she displayed for patient care. Her knowledge and clinical skills were tremendous. She always made time to go with fellows to the pathology department where we would review a kidney biopsy on one of our patients and learn about lupus nephritis. I learned many things from her that I still regularly use in my own practice.
Dr. Kitridou was a steadfast and longtime supporter of the Rheumatology Research Foundation (formerly Research and Education Foundation) and was a member of the Founder’s Circle. She strongly believed that supporting education and research was necessary to provide the best patient care.
I personally owe Dr. Kitridou a debt of gratitude. I would not be where I am today if not for her. When I was about to complete fellowship, she informed me of an opportunity for an academic position at the University of Vermont (UVM), Burlington, and provided me with a reference. As a result I spent the past 30 years at UVM providing patient care, teaching and now serving as division chief. I was very pleased and honored to show Dr. Kitridou around Vermont’s beautiful Green Mountains when she came for a visit.
Trailblazer, expert rheumatologist, patient advocate, teacher, mentor, humanitarian and philanthropist cannot fully encapsulate all that Dr. Kitridou was or what she accomplished. I will continue to cherish my memories of her, with gratitude that I was able to know and work with a true Titan of rheumatology.
Bonita Libman, MD, FACR, FACP, is division chief and fellowship program director for the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology at the Robert Larner, MD, College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, Burlington.