Bernadine Healy

Bernadine Healy

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Bernadine Patricia Healy (August 4, 1944 – August 6, 2011) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 physician, cardiologist, academic and a former head of the National Institutes of Health
National Institutes of Health
The National Institutes of Health are an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and are the primary agency of the United States government responsible for biomedical and health-related research. Its science and engineering counterpart is the National Science Foundation...

 (NIH). She was a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

, professor and dean of the College of Medicine and Public Health at the Ohio State University
Ohio State University
The Ohio State University, commonly referred to as Ohio State, is a public research university located in Columbus, Ohio. It was originally founded in 1870 as a land-grant university and is currently the third largest university campus in the United States...

, and served as president of the American Red Cross
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross , also known as the American National Red Cross, is a volunteer-led, humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the United States. It is the designated U.S...

. She was health editor and columnist for U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report
U.S. News & World Report is an American news magazine published from Washington, D.C. Along with Time and Newsweek it was for many years a leading news weekly, focusing more than its counterparts on political, economic, health and education stories...

. She was a well-known commentator in the media on health issues.

Early years & family

Born in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 to Michael Healy and Violet McGrath, both deceased, Bernadine Patricia Healy was one of four daughters raised in Long Island City, Queens, New York. Healy's parents stressed the importance of education. She was the top student of her high school class at Hunter College High School
Hunter College High School
Hunter College High School is a New York City secondary school for intellectually gifted students located on Manhattan's Upper East Side. It is administered by Hunter College, a senior college of the City University of New York. Although it is not operated by the New York City Department of...


She attended Vassar College
Vassar College
Vassar College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college in the town of Poughkeepsie, New York, in the United States. The Vassar campus comprises over and more than 100 buildings, including four National Historic Landmarks, ranging in style from Collegiate Gothic to International,...

 on a full scholarship and graduated summa cum laude in 1965 with a major in chemistry and a minor in philosophy. She went on to Harvard Medical School
Harvard Medical School
Harvard Medical School is the graduate medical school of Harvard University. It is located in the Longwood Medical Area of the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts....

, also on full scholarship, and was one of only ten women out of 120 students in her class. After graduating cum laude from Harvard Medical School
Harvard Medical School
Harvard Medical School is the graduate medical school of Harvard University. It is located in the Longwood Medical Area of the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts....

 in 1970, she completed her internship and residency in cardiology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine , located in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., is the academic medical teaching and research arm of Johns Hopkins University. Hopkins has consistently been the nation's number one medical school in the amount of competitive research grants awarded by the National...

 and Johns Hopkins Hospital
Johns Hopkins Hospital
The Johns Hopkins Hospital is the teaching hospital and biomedical research facility of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, located in Baltimore, Maryland . It was founded using money from a bequest by philanthropist Johns Hopkins...

. After finishing her post-doctoral training, she became the first woman to join its full-time faculty in cardiology, and rose quickly to the rank of professor of medicine.

For eight years she headed the coronary care unit at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. At the medical school she served as assistant dean for post-doctoral programs and faculty development. During that time she organized a nationally covered Mary Elizabeth Garrett symposium on women in medicine which examined the opportunities and hurdles faced by women physicians roughly 90 years after the founding of the medical school in 1893, and at the same time honored Ms. Garrett, the Victorian socialite
A socialite is a person who participates in social activities and spends a significant amount of time entertaining and being entertained at fashionable upper-class events....

 and philanthropist who made sure Hopkins, from its opening, admitted women and men precisely on the same terms.


While at Johns Hopkins, Healy held several leadership positions in organizations such as the American Federation of Clinical Research, the American College of Cardiology, and the American Heart Association
American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a non-profit organization in the United States that fosters appropriate cardiac care in an effort to reduce disability and deaths caused by cardiovascular disease and stroke. It is headquartered in Dallas, Texas...

, an organization she later led as its volunteer president, and served on advisory committees to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The Age of Autism vaccine safety advocacy group named her 2008 Person of the Year.

American Red Cross

Healy was recruited away from Ohio State to become President and CEO of the American Red Cross
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross , also known as the American National Red Cross, is a volunteer-led, humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the United States. It is the designated U.S...

 in late 1999, succeeding Elizabeth Dole
Elizabeth Dole
Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford "Liddy" Dole is an American politician who served in both the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush presidential administrations, as well as a United States Senator....

. From the outset she strove to unite the various services and volunteers under the banner "Together we can save a life."

Her tenure at the Red Cross was not without controversy. In the spring of 2001 the FDA issued a record fine to the Red Cross for mishandling CMV infected blood products.

The American Red Cross and Healy in particular, were criticized in the media, by New York State Attorney General
New York State Attorney General
The New York State Attorney General is the chief legal officer of the State of New York. The office has been in existence in some form since 1626, under the Dutch colonial government of New York.The current Attorney General is Eric Schneiderman...

 Eliot Spitzer
Eliot Spitzer
Eliot Laurence Spitzer is an American lawyer, former Democratic Party politician, and political commentator. He was the co-host of In the Arena, a talk-show and punditry forum broadcast on CNN until CNN cancelled his show in July of 2011...

, and by some in Congress for designating funds for 9/11 related activities that did not directly involve victims. In mid-November, the Board redirected all of the funds dollars to those who had suffered or faced hardships at the attack site and made the change retroactive to 9/11.

Healy, who had taken controversial stands supporting the Israeli Red Cross
Magen David Adom
The Magen David Adom is Israel's national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service. The name means "Red Star of David"...

, and auditing and financial controls of chapters, had crossed swords on these issues with a few board members and chapter heads, and resigned in the wake of these controversies. Dr. Healy departed the organization as president on December 31, 2001.

Presidential Advisor

President Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 appointed Healy deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. She served as chairman of the White House Cabinet Group on Biotechnology, executive secretary of the White House Science Council's Panel on the Health of Universities, and a member of several advisory groups on developing government wide guidelines for research in human subjects, and for the humane treatment of animals in research. She subsequently served on the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology during the administration of Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....



Healy was director of the Research Institute at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation when President George H. W. Bush tapped her in 1991 to become director of the NIH, its first woman head. She took on many initiatives during her two years at the helm, including the development of a major intramural laboratory
A laboratory is a facility that provides controlled conditions in which scientific research, experiments, and measurement may be performed. The title of laboratory is also used for certain other facilities where the processes or equipment used are similar to those in scientific laboratories...

 for human genomics and recruited a world-renowned team to head the Human Genome Project, elevated nursing research to an independent NIH institute, strengthened a policy whereby the NIH would fund only those clinical trials that included both men and women when the condition being studied affects both genders.

Women's Health Initiative

The Women's Health Initiative was a $625 million effort to study the causes, prevention, and cures of diseases that affect women at midlife and beyond. The study continues to unearth critical information, including evidence in 2002 that combined hormone replacement therapy increases the risk of invasive breast cancers by 26% and heart attack by 27% as well as an increased risk for stroke. The study's findings have resulted in a permanent 15% annual reduction in invasive estrogen positive breast cancer in post menopausal women in the U.S.; The HRT (hormone replacement) drug market in the United States simultaneously dropped by $1 billion, twelve months after the study's results were publicized, as 60% fewer women stopped filling their HRT prescriptions.

As president of the American Heart Association from 1988 to 1989, she sought to convince both the public and medical community that heart disease is also a woman's disease, "not a man's disease in disguise". Appointed president of the American Red Cross in 1999, Healy worked to improve the safety and availability of the American blood supply while overseeing the development of a Weapons of Mass Destruction response program. In 2001 she led the organization’s response to the September 11 attacks.

U.S. Senate candidate

In 1994, Healy was a Republican candidate to represent Ohio in the U.S. Senate. She ran in the GOP primary, and came in second in a four-person race. Lt. Gov. Mike DeWine
Mike DeWine
Richard Michael "Mike" DeWine is the Attorney General for the state of Ohio. He has held numerous offices on the state and federal level, including Ohio State Senator, four terms as a U.S. Congressman, Ohio Lt. Governor, and was a two-term U.S. Senator, serving from 1995 to 2007.- Biography :Born...

 won and prevailed in the general election.

Cleveland Clinic

In 1985 Healy left Washington and moved to Cleveland where she became Chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Research Institute and also practiced cardiology. In addition to building major new programs in molecular biology
Molecular biology
Molecular biology is the branch of biology that deals with the molecular basis of biological activity. This field overlaps with other areas of biology and chemistry, particularly genetics and biochemistry...

, neuroscience
Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system. Traditionally, neuroscience has been seen as a branch of biology. However, it is currently an interdisciplinary science that collaborates with other fields such as chemistry, computer science, engineering, linguistics, mathematics,...

, and cancer biology, she headed a large NIH-funded research program in hypertension
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a cardiac chronic medical condition in which the systemic arterial blood pressure is elevated. What that means is that the heart is having to work harder than it should to pump the blood around the body. Blood pressure involves two measurements, systolic and...

, and was the lead investigator for the Cleveland Clinic's participation in a major clinical research study comparing angioplasty with coronary artery bypass surgery. She headed the NIH advisory board for another multi-center clinical study that showed statins could slow course of atherosclerosis in coronary artery bypass grafts. During this time she initiated a medical student program in alliance with Ohio State University
Ohio State University
The Ohio State University, commonly referred to as Ohio State, is a public research university located in Columbus, Ohio. It was originally founded in 1870 as a land-grant university and is currently the third largest university campus in the United States...

 that served as a precursor of the founding of the Cleveland Clinic College of Medicine in 2004.

Ohio State University

Healy served as professor and Dean of the College of medicine from 1995 to 1999. During her tenure, the college expanded its public health programs to become a School of Public Health,re-christening the College of Medicine into a College of Medicine and Public Health.

With her efforts the medical school became designated as a National Center of Excellence in Women's Health. A new department of orthopaedics was created along with a planned development of a Musculoskeletal Institute. The James Cancer Center expanded its efforts in basic research with recruitment of Dr. Albert de la Chappelle, a world famous geneticist, and Dr. Clara Bloomfield, an oncologist and leukemia
Leukemia or leukaemia is a type of cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells called "blasts". Leukemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases...

 researcher; together, they expanded the college's programs in cancer research and tumor genetics. Cardiovascular research and practice was grew with the recruitment of Dr. Robert Michler of Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

, who helped to revitalize the thoracic surgery
Thoracic surgery
Thoracic surgery is the field of medicine involved in the surgical treatment of diseases affecting organs inside the thorax . Generally treatment of conditions of the lungs, chest wall, and diaphragm....

 and heart transplantation, and developed one of the earliest robotic heart surgery programs. Dr. Pascal Goldschmidt, a cardiologist and researcher, who was recruited from Johns Hopkins, helped create the Heart and Lung Institute.

Advisory boards

Healy served on numerous medical advisory committees and boards over her career. They included committees the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine,of which she is a member, and the national Academy of Engineering
Academy of Engineering
The Academy of Engineering or AOE is the latest addition to the academies governed by the National Academy Foundation in partnership with Project Lead the Way and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering in the United States of America. The AOE partnership brought in the first...

; the Department of Energy, NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

, and the National Institutes of Health. She participated briefly on an Advisory board of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (an organization later shown to have been funded by Philip Morris
Altria Group
Altria Group, Inc. is based in Henrico County, Virginia, and is the parent company of Philip Morris USA, John Middleton, Inc., U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, Inc., Philip Morris Capital Corporation, and Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. It is one of the world's largest tobacco corporations...

), and served on numerous advisory groups and Boards of the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, where she was an outspoken critic of smoking and its effects on the cardiovascular system.


Over her career Healy served as a medical commentator and consultant for CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

MSNBC is a cable news channel based in the United States available in the US, Germany , South Africa, the Middle East and Canada...

, and has made numerous appearances on CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

C-SPAN , an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is an American cable television network that offers coverage of federal government proceedings and other public affairs programming via its three television channels , one radio station and a group of websites that provide streaming...

 and Fox News Channel
Fox News Channel
Fox News Channel , often called Fox News, is a cable and satellite television news channel owned by the Fox Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of News Corporation...

. Healy authored a column, "On Health", for U.S. News and World Report since 2003 on a wide array of medical topics from women's health to marijuana, coronary artery disease to cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

, tattoos to male circumcision
Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin from the penis. The word "circumcision" comes from Latin and ....

, and medical preparedness to health reform.

Healy became the focus of controversy when she questioned the 2004 finding of the Institute of Medicine that the evidence refuting a link between childhood vaccinations and autism was conclusive. She suggested a government conspiracy
Conspiracy (political)
In a political sense, conspiracy refers to a group of persons united in the goal of usurping or overthrowing an established political power. Typically, the final goal is to gain power through a revolutionary coup d'état or through assassination....

 against further research in a nationally televised CBS interview with Sharyl Attkisson
Sharyl Attkisson
Sharyl Attkisson is an investigative correspondent in the Washington bureau for CBS News. She has also substituted as anchor for the CBS Evening News.-Career:From 1990 to 1993, Attkisson was an anchor for CNN...



Dr. Healy was married to cardiac surgeon Floyd D. Loop a former CEO of the Cleveland Clinic. She and her husband had one daughter, Marie McGrath Loop. She had another daughter, Bartlett Bulkley, from her previous marriage.


Dr. Bernadine Healy died from brain cancer on August 6, 2011, two days after her 67th birthday.

External links