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Howard Judd, 71; UCLA women's health researcher

July 29, 2007|Valerie J. Nelson | Times Staff Writer

Dr. Howard Judd, a UCLA researcher who oversaw a groundbreaking national study of the medical problems of older women, and who correctly questioned the early termination of a landmark clinical trial investigating the effects of hormone-replacement therapy for women, has died. He was 71.

Judd, former vice chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA, died of congestive heart failure July 19 at his Santa Monica home, said his wife, Susan Judd.

He was a principal investigator of the Women's Health Initiative, a sweeping federal study launched in the 1990s, until he retired from UCLA in 2005.

In 2002, the study's clinical trial on hormone-replacement therapy appeared to put women at increased risk for heart attack and stroke and it was called off three years early. Last month -- nearly five years later -- researchers largely reversed their position and concluded that estrogen is beneficial to many, a position that Judd had maintained all along.

"He was a dissenting voice, and it turns out he was right," said Dr. Gautam Chaudhuri, executive chairman of the obstetrics department at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine and who considered Judd a mentor.

"Dr. Judd was one of the foremost contributors to women's health research," Chaudhuri said. "He was a brilliant scientist who could look at a basic science development and see how it fit clinically."

One of Judd's early achievements was devising a way to assess the severity of hot flashes, a common effect of menopause. They are marked by a sharp rise in a woman's skin temperature and pulse rate and cause her to perspire heavily. The equipment he developed to objectively measure hot flashes helped him complete "tremendous studies related to estrogen therapy," Chaudhuri said.

Judd was internationally recognized for his research in menopause, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian disease, according to a UCLA release.

He also developed a transdermal patch delivery system for hormones that he believed could negate the risks of stroke, blood clots and heart attacks because patches, compared with tablets or injections, better mimic a woman's natural delivery of estrogen through the bloodstream.

A native of Los Angeles, Howard Lund Judd was born Dec. 28, 1935. His father, George E. Judd, was an obstetrician, and his mother, Emmeline, was a homemaker.

While on a fishing trip, an adolescent Judd watched his father painstakingly remove a fishing hook from a boy's finger, then stitch it up. From that point on, the younger Judd planned to become a doctor.

Growing up in Los Feliz, he became an Eagle Scout, an accomplishment Judd remained proud of throughout his life. He spent three years at Occidental College before going on a two-year Mormon mission to Virginia and North Carolina.

After attending Brigham Young University and earning a medical degree from George Washington University in 1963, he married while interning at Los Angeles County General Hospital. He did his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Boston Lying-In Hospital at Harvard Medical School and followed it with a two-year fellowship in endocrinology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In 1970, Judd became a founding faculty member of the UC San Diego medical school's department of obstetrics and gynecology. He joined UCLA seven years later.

At UCLA, Judd was chief of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility, and from 1994 to 2003 he was vice chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology.

Judd especially enjoyed mentoring medical residents and often helped them study for their board exams, his wife said.

He was named executive director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Cedars-Sinai and UCLA medical centers in 1998. He later became chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center.

Judd was a tennis player and a golfer who "complained consistently about his game," said Susan Judd, who suspected that her book-loving husband had honed his computer skills just so he could navigate

In addition to his wife, Judd is survived by three daughters, Hilary Judd, Wendy Brenner and Leslie Hamilton; two granddaughters; and his brother, Dr. Lewis Judd, who is chairman of the psychiatry department at UC San Diego.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Aug. 18 at the UCLA Faculty Center.

Instead of flowers, the family suggests donating to the Obstetrics and Gynecology Research Fund, UCLA Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 10833 Le Conte Ave., Box 951740, Los Angeles, CA 90095. Checks should be made payable to the Regents of UC.


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