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March 23, 2022

A Tribute to Constance Maria Murphy

Kanade Shinkai, MD, PhD1; for the JAMA Dermatology editorial board
Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco
JAMA Dermatol. 2022;158(5):492. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2022.0400

It is with profound sadness that I announce that Constance “Connie” Maria Murphy, the editorial manager for JAMA Dermatology since 2018, died on October 20, 2021, as a result of gun violence. I am at a loss for words as I process this news. When I started as Editor of the journal, I was grateful to have such a superb editorial manager, one who came to have deep knowledge about the JAMA Network and medical publishing. Over the past few years since she joined the team, however, I came to appreciate Connie for so much more. She lived a special and unique life, and she became a trusted colleague and friend to many of us within the dermatology community.

Connie’s intelligence, independence, and adventuresome spirit were an inspiration. It is almost unimaginable to me that someone who was so brilliantly filled with life is now gone, and as a result of such violence. Connie was a trained civil engineer, accomplished sailor, beehive whisperer, lover of all animals, especially horses, avid vegetable gardener, and loving mother and friend. She was most at home when outdoors in nature, yet loved the intellectual work of the journal and the important role it has in dermatology. On an almost weekly basis during our work calls, she expressed how much she enjoyed being a member of our team, supporting editors, and learning about the biology of skin and treatment of skin diseases. Her wry sense of humor was best evidenced in her pithy, laugh-out-loud comments on notes throughout the manuscript management system. She would frequently marvel at the clinical images. At the time of her death, she was aged 54 years and is survived by her parents and her daughter Madeleine. Connie was so proud of her daughter and frequently expressed her appreciation for the strong female role models in dermatology, including the many female members of our editorial board and authors she had met through journal interactions.

Connie celebrated the humanity of the work we do at JAMA Dermatology. She cared deeply for each of our editorial board members as well as our authors and reviewers. On numerous occasions, she went the extra mile to help answer author questions or to assist with submitting their manuscripts. She recognized how important every manuscript was and wanted every published article to be the best version possible. It never ceased to amaze me that she knew hundreds, if not thousands, of names of dermatologists and trainees who interface with our journal—many on a first-name basis. She believed that the quality of the journal process was equally important to the quality of journal content, a belief that she upheld daily through her work. Connie worked hard to build relationships with authors, and to connect authors, reviewers, and editors by facilitating the many correspondences that accompany each submission. “A nice note from your author” was a common refrain to notes, even those without an action item.

I was honored to attend Connie’s memorial service in Jacksonville, Oregon, where I had the chance to meet many of her friends and family. I was touched by the many uplifting—and at times hilarious—stories. Her amazing community remembered a woman of great intelligence, kindness, humility, creativity, grit, resilience, and loyalty. They remembered times when she provided support through help with farm chores, relocating a swarm of bees, offers of home-baked treats (“nothing a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie can’t fix”), words of wisdom, and bids of friendship. These stories resonated with me, as Connie was also strongly connected to the members of our editorial leadership team. One of the last things she said to me earlier on the day of her death was how happy she was that one of our associate editors was going to become a first-time father. And so the cycle of life continues.

Although Connie was not a dermatologist, she was an important figure in our specialty—one of the unsung heroines and heroes whose contributions and commitment to excellence in dermatology supported critical journal activities and the dissemination of new scientific information about cutaneous disease. She modeled how we should treat every manuscript and every journal interaction—even the most mundane—in an equally honorable and joyful way. She will always be remembered and appreciated for these gifts and for being a valued member and cherished friend to our journal team, the JAMA Network, and the dermatology community.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Kanade Shinkai, MD, PhD (on behalf of the JAMA Dermatology editorial board), Department of Dermatology, University of California San Francisco, 1701 Divisadero St, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94115 (kanade.shinkai@jamanetwork.org).

Published Online: March 23, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2022.0400

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

1 Comment for this article
Rest in Peace, Connie
alison mm |
💔💔💔 thank you for this beautiful tribute to a remarkable woman. rest in peace, Connie. may gun violence cease everywhere.