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Bernadine Healy Papers 1958-2010
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Biographical Note

Bernadine Healy (1944-2011) was born in Queens, New York to Michael Healy and Violet McGrath Healy. She was one of four daughters born to the primarily blue-collar family. Dr. Healy was a gifted student who attended Vassar College, where she graduated in 1965 summa cum laude with a major in chemistry and a minor in philosophy. In June 1970, Dr. Healy earned her M.D. cum laude at Harvard Medical School. She completed her postgraduate training in internal medicine and cardiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Throughout the course of her career as a cardiologist, health administrator, and policy maker, Dr. Healy became well-known for her advocacy of equality for women in health research and her efforts to rebrand heart disease as no longer just a "man's disease."

For two years following her training, Dr. Healy worked as a researcher at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at NIH. In 1974, she returned to Johns Hopkins as professor of medicine. While there, Dr. Healy also undertook clinical responsibilities, directed a program in cardiovascular research, served as Director of the Coronary Care Unit, and as the Assistant Dean for post-doctoral programs and faculty development. Some of Dr. Healy's earliest contributions towards equality for women in the medical field began at Hopkins, where she organized the Mary Elizabeth Garrett Symposium on women and medicine to highlight opportunities and obstacles faced by women in the profession.

Dr. Healy's formal introduction to health policy came in 1984 when President Ronald Regan appointed her Deputy Director of the White House Office of Science and Policy. Soon after, Dr. Healy was appointed chair of the Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in 1985 where she directed the research programs of nine different departments. Her achievements at the Cleveland Clinic include establishing new research programs, most notably to study molecular biology. Dr. Healy also participated in many large research programs including an NIH-funded program to study hypertension and another to investigate coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

While at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Dr. Healy also served as president of the American Heart Association for 1988-1989. In her role as president, Dr. Healy furthered her cause for health research equality by initiating programs to study heart disease in women and by heading up a women's minority leadership task force.

Dr. Healy left the Cleveland Clinic in 1991 when President George H.W. Bush nominated her to be Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH); in April Dr. Healy was sworn in as NIH's first female Director. In her time at NIH she furthered the cause of equality in medicine, mandating that both men and women were included in clinical trials. Dr. Healy also launched the Women's Health Initiative, a $625 million-dollar effort to combat the lack of research on postmenopausal women's health and to seek causes, prevention, and cures of diseases affecting middle aged women. Dr. Healy was also instrumental in opening intramural laboratories for the Human Genome Project and ensured clinical trials conducted through the project studied both men and women when conditions affected both sexes. She also led the development of NIH's first strategic plan. Dr. Healy resigned from the NIH in June 1993.

After leaving NIH Dr. Healy returned to Ohio and took up a new post as Senior Policy Advisor for the Page Center for Health and Science Policy at the Cleveland Clinic. That summer she also began planning for a potential career in politics and in September 1993 announced her candidacy for the Republican nomination in Ohio's Senate race. Dr. Healy did not win the May 1994 primary, coming in second place to former Ohio governor Mike DeWine. Shortly after losing the primary election Dr. Healy left the Cleveland Clinic to serve as Dean of the Ohio State University School of Medicine, a role she held between 1995-1999.

In 1999 Dr. Healy was hired to be President and CEO of the American Red Cross. There Dr. Healy led an initiative for a strategic and safe blood reserve amidst concerns about contaminations from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). While at the Red Cross, Dr. Healy also became a passionate advocate for the recognition of the Israeli disaster response organization David Magen Adom by the International Red Cross. Notably, Dr. Healy led the Red Cross during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She presided over the creation of the Liberty Fund fundraising effort for victim's families, the alleged mishandling of which would eventually force Dr. Healy's resignation in December 2001.

Dr. Healy was also a widely sought-after health commentator, most notably as a medical consultant for many news agencies including CBS, PBS, and MSNBC, and as health editor for U.S. News & World Report where she authored a column "On Health" beginning in 2003. She was also a prolific writer, authoring over 200 academic research articles on cardiology and health policy and two published books.

Dr. Healy was involved in medical policy-making through in a variety of advisory roles. She was a member of the advisory committee to the NIH Director, the White House Science Council, the U.S. Congress's Office of Technology Assessment, the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST), the Office of Technology Assessment, and as an advisor on bioterrorism to President George W. Bush.

Dr. Healy died at her home in Gates Mills, Ohio on August 6, 2011 after a thirteen year battle with brain cancer.