August 8th, 2011

Bernadine Healy, First Woman to Head the NIH, Dead of Brain Tumor

Bernadine Healy, a cardiologist who was the first woman to head the NIH, died on Saturday from complications of a brain tumor. She was married to cardiac surgeon Floyd Loop, a former CEO of the Cleveland Clinic. She had two daughters, one from a previous marriage.

Healy was born in 1944 and grew up in New York City.  She went to Hunter College High School, Vassar College, and Harvard Medical School. She completed her training in internal medicine and cardiology at Johns Hopkins, where she eventually joined the faculty after a stint at the NHLBI. She was chosen by President Reagan in 1984 to be  the deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Policy.

In 1991 President Bush chose her as the first woman director of the NIH, where she served until 1993. One major accomplishment during her tenure at the NIH was the establishment of the Women’s Health Initiative, which continues to have a broad impact on public health to this day. She was the Dean of the College of Medicine at Ohio State University from 1995 to 1999 and the president of the American Red Cross from 1999 through 2001.

A funeral for Healy will take place in Ohio on Wednesday. A memorial service in Washington, DC will be scheduled at a later date.


Bernadine Healy (third row, third from left) with her Harvard Medical School class, ca. 1970 (image courtesy of the NIH)

One Response to “Bernadine Healy, First Woman to Head the NIH, Dead of Brain Tumor”

  1. Ruth Lebowitz, MLS says:

    Extremely saddened by this news.