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Bernadine Healy, NIH and Red Cross leader, dies at 67

The Washington Post, August 9, 2011

Bernadine Healy, MD, the accomplished and controversial first female director of the National Institutes of Health and past president of the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross, died Aug. 6 of a recurrence of brain cancer at her home in Gates Mills, OH. She was 67. Healy, a cardiologist, helped turn around a fractured, underfunded and under-fire NIH in the early 1990s. Her most notable accomplishment there was launching the Women's Health Initiative, a $500 million, 10-year study of diseases that affect women at midlife and beyond. The study revealed previously undiscovered dangers to women's health, such as the risks of heart attacks and strokes in post-menopausal women. In the late 1990s, she was hired as a change agent at the notoriously change-resistant Red Cross. She was forced out of that job after two years, after a series of differences with longtime board members who objected to her assertive, sometimes steely style and to their loss of control over day-to-day decision-making.