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Courtney Rowe, MD, is the Director of the Reconstructive Urology Program, rebuilding children’s damaged or defective urinary tracts and reproductive organs. She is also a translational researcher whose laboratory uses regenerative medicine to improve healing after reconstructive urologic surgery. She earned her BA at Brown University and her MD from Boston University. Her residency was at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School, and she did a clinical fellowship at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a research fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital. She is also the recipient of the inaugural $50,000 research grant from Connecticut Children’s Connection, a group of involved donors who support research.

Courtney Rowe, MD, Director of the Reconstructive Urology Program at Connecticut Children's

Where did you grow up?

In a little town called East Moriches, on the shore of Long Island. My mom is Chinese and my father is Caucasian. He was research scientist and my mother was a PR specialist at his laboratory. They were sort of hippie scientists.

Did you always want to be a doctor?

No. In school I liked creative arts and math. So when I went to Brown University, I studied the transition from the written word to the digital domain. Then I went to grad school at NYU in a program combining art and computers. But I didn’t like it. So I took some personality tests, and they said I should be in law school or medicine. I chose medicine. I needed to solve problems and see immediate results of my work, and surgery seemed like the right fit. I went to medical school at Boston University and connected with a urologist, a woman and mother, who mentored me.

Dr. Courtney Rowe interacts with a patient.

Why urology?

In urology we work on small, soft, delicate structures that are far away. Because they are small and far away, we use a lot of technology to get there. We use the surgical robot, we use scopes, we use laparoscopy [using tools at the end of flexible tubes to work through a small incision]. That ties in with my technology background.

Does being a mother influence how you work?

I was a mom before I ever practiced as a physician. It gives you a different perspective taking care of patients when you have children at home.

What are you proudest of in your career?

Early in my career I had a child who was born with cloacal exstrophy, where the bladder is open to the outside of the body and the rectum is coming out the front of the body. It requires a very complex surgery and her initial surgery out of state had failed. I tried to refer her to another institution for a revision surgery but they kept delaying—it was just too hard. I felt I had to do something for this family who had sacrificed so much. So I formed a consortium with other surgeons in the state of Connecticut and got my mentor from Seattle to come coach us. And it worked. Our collaboration has done a series of these surgeries now, with world-class outcomes.

Does research interest you?

Connecticut Children’s Connection members help our physician-researchers unlock medical mysteries, not only for the patients and families in our community who depend on Connecticut Children’s, but also for grateful patients around the globe.

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