Judith S. Gavaler (born Judith Ann Stohr on August 5, 1939 in Pittsburgh) died January 5, 2018 in Williamsburg, VA of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. She will be remembered for her intense drive as a medical researcher and her love of art. Throughout her life she maintained an interest in social justice beginning with her contributions to addressing racial violence in the Penn Hills high school and integrating the Penn Hills police force in the 1960’s through to her medical research documenting health disparities among different racial and ethnic groups in the 1990’s.
She received a B.S. in Chemistry from Hood College in Frederick, MD, and earned a Ph.D. in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health in 1986. After rising to the rank of Research Professor in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, she joined the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation faculty as Head of Women’s Health Research from 1993-2000. She returned to the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Dr. Gavaler held the rank of Research Professor Emeritus in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Pharmacy.
Dr. Gavaler was continually funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism from 1985 to 1999. She published over 290 manuscripts. She served on various peer review study sections of the National Institutes of Health, as well as on editorial boards and advisory committees. Her most well-known research focused on the factors which modulate the hormonal status of postmenopausal women in general, and on the interactions and direct effects of alcoholic beverage consumption on the estrogen status of postmenopausal women in particular. She has studied underlying causes for the substantial differences in life expectancy among American Indian, Asian, Black, Hispanic and White post-menopausal women.
She is survived by her children Joan Gavaler, Professor of Dance at the College of William and Mary, and Chris Gavaler, Assistant Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, and by her grandchildren Madeleine and Cameron.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Alzheimer’s’ Foundation of America: https://alzfdn.org/