News from the WHI Study

10/26/2022

Remembering Dr. Lewis Kuller

Dear WHI colleagues,

What a difficult year this has been for us. Sadly, we must inform you of the passing of one of the major intellectual leaders in the WHI. Dr. Lewis Kuller passed away last night after some months of declining health.

Lew was an internationally renowned physician-epidemiologist who conducted research in multiple areas of medicine and public health. We may know him best for his exceptional work in cardiovascular epidemiology. He also contributed broadly to our understanding of risk factors and prevention of chronic disease including cancer, diabetes, vascular disease, aging, and Alzheimer’s disease. He was an original Vanguard Principal Investigators leading the Pittsburgh Clinical Center and was a major contributor to the design and implementation of the WHI clinical trials, drawing on his insights and experience from his major roles in the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial (MRFIT) and the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS). Importantly, his clinical experience and perspective helped to inform the clinical relevance of proposed research. Lew served on the WHI Steering Committee and chaired the Design and Analysis Committee (the forerunner of the current Ancillary Studies Committee) from 1999-2001. He continued to serve on that committee and the Scientific Resources Working Group until his passing, providing thoughtful critiques, up-to-date information from a wide spectrum of literature, and an impressive understanding of novel technologies. His comments often suggested a deeper knowledge or a better grasp of the issues at hand than the initiating investigator. Never reticent to share his concerns regarding the scientific rigor of WHI research, he was a tireless advocate for making the best use of the WHI resource. He was especially supportive of early career investigators, recommending that their proposals move forward with the benefit of the committee’s comments and broader mentoring by WHI investigators.

Lew received his BA from Hamilton College, his MD from George Washington University School of Medicine, his MPH and DrPH from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health. He trained in internal medicine in Maimonides Hospital, Brooklyn, NY and in preventive medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and was board certified in preventive medicine. He held faculty positions at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Department of Epidemiology at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh where he was chair from 1972-2002. Lew was designated Distinguished University Professor of Public Health in 1997. At his death, he was Professor Emeritus in the Department of Epidemiology at the U of Pittsburgh. He has been on the editorial boards of many journals, including Stroke, Atherosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, American Journal of Epidemiology and the European Journal of Epidemiology. He was an author on over 1000 papers.

Lew received numerous honors including being a named Fellow of several organizations (American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association (AHA), the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the AHA Councils on Epidemiology, Cerebrovascular Disease and Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism). He received the Peter J. Safar Pulse of Pittsburgh Award from the AHA and the John Snow Award from the American Public Health Association and the Royal Society for Public Health. He was also named Distinguished Scientist of the AHA, Centennial Scholar, Johns Hopkins University Research Award, and the Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award at Pittsburgh.

We offer our sincere condolences to his family and our colleagues in Pittsburgh for the loss of this truly remarkable man.

To continue Lew’s legacy at Pitt Public Health, memorial contributions can be made to Lewis H. Kuller Scholarship Award, which supports student tuition, books, fees, research and travel for students in the Department of Epidemiology.

If you would like to send a card to his family please reach out to info@whi.org.

We will provide updates on any memorial activities as they become available.

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