Dr. Bernardette Healy

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    Dr. Bernadette Healy was appointed as the first woman director of the National Institutes of Health (1991-1993). Dr. Healy was a distinguished cardiologist and a dedicated and caring physician. She died in August 2011. (NIH History Office)

    Dr. Bernadette Healy was appointed as the first woman director of the National Institutes of Health (1991-1993). Dr. Healy was a distinguished cardiologist and a dedicated and caring physician. She died in August 2011. (NIH History Office)

    Dr. Bernadette Healy, an accomplished cardiologist and influential federal health administrator in the 1980s, was known for her innovations and her campaigns to raise awareness about women’s health issues.

    Healy was President Ronald Reagan’s deputy advisor for science and technology, the first woman to be appointed Director of the National Institutes of Health under President George H.W. Bush, and the first physician to lead the American Red Cross.

    During her tenure at NIH, she founded the Women’s Health Initiative, a 625 million dollar effort to study cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and cancer in women — maladies that often affect middle-age and older women.

    She served as president of the American Heart Association. Healy was also a professor and dean at Ohio State University’s College of Medicine and Public Health. During her tenure, the medical school became a National Center of Excellence in women’s health.

    Healy was also health editor and columnist for U.S. News & World Report, and became a well-known commentator in the news media on health issues.

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