Matthew Thomas McKenna, MD/PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, died Monday February 14th at home due to complications from brain cancer. He was 33.
Matthew was born in Red Bank, NJ where he lived for eight years before moving to Ellicott City, MD. In 1999 Matthew enrolled at Loyola Blakefield, a Jesuit college preparatory school in Towson, MD, where he spent his middle and high school years growing into a Loyola Don, a “Man for Others”. Matthew was a swimmer on the Loyola swim team specializing in the butterfly, as well as a member of the Don’s water polo team. He was named team captain in his senior year, where he affectionately earned the name “Skip” (short for Skipper). In addition to swimming for school, Matthew also swam for his neighborhood summer swim team, the Phelps Luck Snappers, which he later coached for a season.
After graduating from Loyola in 2006, Matthew enrolled in Duke University, where he pursued dual degrees in Electrical and Biomedical engineering. Matt’s love of swimming followed him to Duke, where despite his small size he managed to land a spot on the men’s swim team. Matthew found a group of friends on the swim team that supported him for the rest of his life. In junior year, Matthew studied abroad traveling through Italy and Germany for the summer, eating brats and speaking some broken German. Of course it’s almost impossible to attend Duke without following the Duke men’s basketball program, and Matthew was no exception. He joined his fellow Cameron Crazies rooting for Coach K and the Blue Devils. In 2010, his senior year, Matthew made the trek to Indianapolis to watch Duke win the national championship.
After graduating from Duke in 2010, Matthew spent two years working at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, developing novel techniques for detecting colon polyps using CT imaging. It was during his time at the NIH, that Matthew applied for and was admitted to the Medical Scientist Training Program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. In 2012 Matthew moved to Nashville, and spent the next seven years pursuing dual MD/PhD degrees, with an emphasis on medical imaging and radiology. But just like his time at Loyola and Duke, Matthew didn’t simply focus on his studies at Vanderbilt, because it was while he was there that Matthew courted and finally proposed to his beloved wife Monica. The two were married in 2019.
In addition to his wife, Monica Bhutani, Matthew is survived by his parents, Dianna and Gerald; sister and brother-in-law, Colleen and Ted O’Connor and their daughter Frances; sister and brother-in-law Katie and Danny Corning; mother-in-law and father-in-law Inder and Agnieszka Bhutiani; brother-in-law Neal Bhutiani; sister-in-law Emily Bhutiani; and many more aunts, uncles, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Ruth Anne and William Kelly, and Terese and Thomas McKenna.
A memorial Mass for Matthew’s family and friends located in the Nashville area will be held on Friday, February 18th at 1:00PM at Christ the King Cathoilic Church, 3001 Belmont Blvd., Nashville, TN.
All others are welcome to attend a funeral service for Matthew on Saturday, February 26th at 10:00AM at St. Augustine Church, 5976 Old Washington Rd, Elkridge, MD.
Donations in Matthew’s name can be made to The V Foundation for Cancer Research (https://v.org), or the Glioblastoma Research Foundation (https://glioblastomafoundation.org).