President Bush said Wednesday that he will nominate cardiologist Bernadine P. Healy to become the first woman to head the National Institutes of Health.
Healy, 46, has been head of research at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio since 1985, and for two years before that was deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology.
A former president of the American Heart Assn., she also worked at NIH in the 1970s, as a pathology fellow at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, after receiving her medical degree from Harvard Medical School.
The NIH has been without a permanent director since James B. Wyngaarden resigned in August, 1989, and the agency has been under pressure from women’s groups and congresswomen to increase research on women’s diseases and to include more women in studies in which experimental therapies are tested.
Healy was a member of an NIH advisory committee that recommended government approval of fetal tissue research to seek cures to various illnesses. The panel’s recommendation was overruled by both the Reagan and the Bush administrations.
A number of candidates turned down the NIH appointment because of pressure to adhere to the Administration’s anti-abortion position on the question of fetal tissue.