boston.com News your connection to The Boston Globe

Howard Judd, top researcher in older women's health issues

LOS ANGELES -- Dr. Howard Judd, a 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.

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

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 Dr. 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 Dr. 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 Dr. 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.

Dr. Judd was also internationally recognized for his research in endometriosis, a disorder in the uterus, and polycystic ovarian disease, according to a UCLA release.

He also had 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.

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, Dr. 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.

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

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES