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Bernadine Healy
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    (August 4, 1944-August 6, 2011)
    Born in New York City, New York
    Science advisor to Ronald Reagan
    Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH; 1991-93)
    Dean of the College of Medicine at Ohio State University (1995-99)
    Head of the American Red Cross (1999-2001)
    Bioterrorism advisor to George W. Bush
    Medical commentator for CBS, PBS and MSNBC
    Authored the 'On Health' column for 'US News and World Report'
    She supported medical research using fetal tissue, but after being appointed NIH director changed her position to match that of President George H.W. Bush.
    She unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for US Senator from Ohio (1994).
    A Red Cross official said of her often stormy tenure heading the organization, 'Dr. Healy was not people-oriented and the Red Cross is about people.'
    After 9/11, she was criticized for encouraging more blood donations than were actually needed, with much of the collected blood eventually being discarded.
    She was hired by the tobacco industry front group The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, then (surprise!) wrote several columns criticizing regulations intended to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke.
    She claimed a government conspiracy was suppressing evidence of a link between vaccines and autism.
    She was a high school valedictorian and won full scholarships to Vassar and to Harvard Medical School.
    At the NIH, she launched the Women's Health Initiative to study diseases affecting women, particularly in middle age and older.
    A later NIH director said, 'She championed the principle that women's health could not simply be inferred by extrapolation from studies on men. As a result, today we have seen major advances in the understanding of how women and their health care providers can better prevent cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and a host of other conditions.'
    She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and told she had three months to live (1998), but lived more than a decade after surgery and chemotherapy.
    When Red Cross board members criticized her reaction to allegations of embezzlement at the Jersey City chapter as 'too fast and too tough,'she replied, 'What should I have been? Too soft and too slow?'
    A Red Cross board member admitted, 'In hindsight, her decisions were right.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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