Deb Gorth’s Wild Ride


Roller derby, politics, fencing, and Ph.D. research—it’s all just a typical day in the life for this class of 2005 grad.

Deb Gorth ’05 seems to have packed more into the 14 years since graduation than most people fit into a whole lifetime. For starters, she’s in her sixth year of an eight year M.D./Ph.D. program and is doing serious research on the spongy stuff between your vertebrae. She’s also a former fencing coach who now leads a Philly roller derby team. She’s politically active and has a wit that’s as dry as a good martini. She and her roller-derby-playing French wife, Meryl, were featured in Martha Stewart Weddings after they said their vows in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Oh, and does she really play classical guitar or was she just pranking us? Join us for a wild ride as we hear more about her busy, multifaceted life.

What do you hope to do once you have your M.D. and Ph.D.?

My goal is to be a “triple-threat”: a clinical physician, basic researcher, and medical educator. Or, I will open a coffee shop.

What do you do outside of work?

I stay physically active with CrossFit, roller derby, and boxing. These communities anchor my social life. Additionally, I am politically active, serving on the board of Liberty City Democrats, as a Democratic committee person, and on the board of both a city council and judicial campaign.

What roller derby team do you play with?

I play for the Liberty Belles, Philly Roller Derby’s All-Star team. We compete internationally as a member of the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association. One of our first games this season is against London, who is coming to play us this summer.

How did you meet your wife?

I met my wife though roller derby. She was the European brand ambassador for Riedell Skates visiting Philadelphia from Paris. We both play on the same team now, and try to not be too competitive with each other. I probably would have paid more attention in French class at Williston had I known how useful the language would be later in life.

What other hobbies do you have?

You want me to have more hobbies?Actually, I do also play classical guitar.

What do you appreciate about your time at Williston?

I was always going to end up a science and math person, but Williston helped me become a halfway decent writer. My comfort in writing is a huge leg up when putting together a manuscript for a paper or textbook chapter.

How did you end up in Philadelphia?

I worked at Haverford College as an assistant fencing coach. It took a year or so for me to appreciate the city’s glory. Benjamin Franklin is my spirit guide; he was a Massachusetts native who put down roots in Philadelphia, was drawn to science and bettering his community, and had a weakness for French women.