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Lauren Taggart

In-Memoriam: Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, M.D.

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It is with deep sadness that we inform you of the passing of Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, M.D., Distinguished Professor, Department of Family and Preventative Medicine, University of California, San Diego. Self-described as a "pathological optimist", Dr. Barrett-Connor is internationally acclaimed with a outstanding record of research accomplishments. Her role as leader of the Lipids Research Clinics Prevalence Study enabled her to establish the Rancho Bernardo Study, groundbreaking at the time for its inclusion of men and women, with the flexibility to develop over time. The Rancho Bernardo Study is still going strong over four decades later, and has led to insights into the biology of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, bone health and menopause. Her tremendous impact is not in research alone, but is also reflected through her teaching, encouragement, and mentorship of generations of physicians and scientists. Join us in recognizing Dr. Barrett-Connnor’s contributions to our field by sharing a memory on the ASBMR Website or contributing a donation in her honor.

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Vale Dr. Elizabeth Barrett-Connor.  I have met her numerous times at UCSD and in ASBMR annual meetings over the past 20 years or so, and my lasting impression was that she was a person of character and talent. She was an innovative thinker in the epidemiology of chronic diseases. My work on osteoporosis in men (Am J Epidemiol, 1996) was actually inspired by her lecture in 1994 re sex differences in heart disease and its risk factors. She had collaborated with me and my team in an important study that falsified a long-held assumption that Asian women had higher body fat mass than Caucasian women (Obesity, 2010). Falsificationism was her favorite intellectual subject. Indeed, I later discovered that she was also interested in the philosophy of science and a strong devotee of the Scientific Method. Every time we met at the ASBMR meeting, we had interesting exchanges on Popper's falsificationism and the likes.

It was ~15 years ago, Elizabeth wrote a beautiful letter of recommendation for me when I applied for promtion to full professorship. My gratitude to Elizabeth's kindness and innovative thinking. She will be sadly missed by me. She will also be silently remembered by many people who owe their lives to her insight and effort as an epidemiologist have influenced the treatment of osteoporosis worldwide. 

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