News from the WHI Study


Gerardo Heiss, M.D., M.Sc., Ph.D., FAHA

It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Gerardo Heiss, M.D., M.Sc., Ph.D., FAHA, the W.R. Kenan, JR. Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology, and the Principal Investigator of the former WHI Clinical Center/Field Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill on Saturday, June 11. Dr. Heiss was a highly valued colleague and contributor to WHI over the last three decades and we all mourn his loss.

Dr. Heiss received his internal medical training in Chile, a Master of Science degree in Social Medicine from the London School of Hygiene and a doctorate in epidemiology from UNC. His research interests included noninvasive measures of vascular disease in populations; genetic and environmental determinants of atherosclerosis; inflammatory precursors of diabetes and heart disease; cardiovascular health of women and minority populations; mechanisms relating socio-economic status to cardiovascular health and successful aging, and applications of electronic health records in population research.

Dr. Heiss was especially well known for his excellent work in training and mentoring of early career scientists. He was the Principal Investigator of a longstanding training grant in cardiovascular epidemiology and was recognized for his success in these efforts with the John E Larsh Award for Mentorship and the American Heart Association – Mentorship Award. He was also a prolific author, publishing nearly 450 articles in his 54-year career, many from his years of devotion to WHI as well as other collaborative efforts including the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, the Family Heart Study (NHLBI-FHS), the Family Blood Pressure Program (FBPP/HyperGEN), the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (SOL), and the Genetic Epidemiology of Causal Variants across the Life Course, (CALiCo) study, a part of the PAGE consortium.

Dr. Heiss served on the Ancillary Studies Committee (formerly Design and Analysis Committee) throughout his affiliation with WHI. His contributions to this effort were always well-informed, thoughtful, constructive, and timely. His extensive knowledge and wisdom, generously and humbly offered, was highly regarded by others on the committee.

We were honored to have him in our midst and will miss him tremendously.

Surviving him are his wife, Jo, and children Cathy and Michael.

If you would like to send personal condolences to the family, please email the help desk to get the family’s contact information.