PASSINGS: Patricia Buffler

Patricia Buffler

Studied causes of


childhood leukemia

Patricia Buffler, 75, a UC Berkeley researcher who studied childhood leukemia and environmental health, and served as dean of the university's school of public health, died Sept. 26 when she had a stroke in her campus office.

Her death was announced by UC Berkeley, where she had been a professor of epidemiology since 1991 and dean of the School of Public Health until 1998.

At the time of her death, Buffler was leading the California Childhood Leukemia Study, which she began in 1995 to investigate the relationship between diet, genes, infections and environmental exposures and the development of leukemia, campus officials said.

She was also a principal investigator with the Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Leukemia and the Environment to study the role of prenatal and early life exposures to carcinogens in developing leukemia.

"No question she was one of the world's leading researchers in childhood leukemia, but also in cancer epidemiology," said Arthur Reingold, head of epidemiology at UC Berkeley. "It is standard now to look at the interaction of genetic determinants and environmental factors in disease, but Pat was one of the first people to apply it to leukemia. Because of her work, we now have a better understanding of a rare disease."

Buffler also examined the effects of secondhand tobacco smoke and electromagnetic radiation.

Born Aug. 1, 1938, in Doylestown, Pa., she was the first person in her family to attend college when she enrolled in Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She earned a bachelor's degree in nursing and biology in 1960 and then moved to New York, where she worked as a public health nurse in Harlem.

She went on a blind date and met her future husband, Richard Buffler, a U.S. Navy communications officer stationed in Rhode Island. The couple moved to California and she went on to earn her master's degree in public health in 1965 and a doctorate in epidemiology in 1973, both from UC Berkeley.

Between 1974 and 1991, Buffler held various teaching positions in the University of Texas system.


Times staff and wire reports