Faculty Focus: Polly Ferguson, MD

Date: Monday, March 2, 2020

Polly Ferguson, portraitWhat is your hometown?

West Des Moines, IA

How/when did you become interested in science and/or medicine?

I had a serious illness at age 13, I was in the hospital a lot and watched so many children suffer, and I wanted to be able to help. One of my doctors, Jack Spevak  inspired me to be a doctor. I pursued a research career to make tomorrow’s treatments better than todays.  

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?


How or why did you choose to join the faculty at the University of Iowa?

 I chose Iowa because of its outstanding and collaborative research enterprise (and because Jeff Murray is here). I needed to be at a place where I could be both a physician and a scientist. It was also nice coming home to the ‘motherland’! 

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

I had the privilege of being trained in pediatric immunology and rheumatology by Frank Saulsbury at the University of Virginia. He is the best clinician I have come across during my career. Jeff Murray is my research hero. 

How do you see your faculty role impacting medicine and/or science?

My goal is to contribute new knowledge, improve clinical care and to help train young physicians and (of special interest) the next generation of physician-scientists

What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?

Stay curious. 

In what ways are you engaged in professional activities outside the University?

I look for volunteer opportunities in which my skills and their mission synergize. I am currently serving on committees for NIAMS/NIH, the American College of Rheumatology, the Arthritis Foundation and the American Board of Pediatrics.

What are some of your outside (personal) interests?

Gardening, pottery, knitting, hiking, Pilates, and yoga.

Learn more about Polly Ferguson, MD