Luella Klein, MD was a champion for women’s health who spent her career advocating for women through her work in maternal fetal medicine and international health policy involving women.
Despite being discouraged from studying medicine, she excelled in her undergraduate and medical school studies, graduating at the top of her class in both degrees. Ever the trailblazer, she specialized in obstetrics and gynecology, a field with few women at the time and spent two years pursuing research as a Fulbright Scholar in England.
After several years in private practice, she joined the faculty at Emory University in 1967 where she remained until her retirement in 2013. She was a fearless mentor, using her voice to standup for her beliefs around themes of health equity and women’s health. Dr. Klein promoted the use of antenatal steroids in women with impending preterm births to induce fetal lung maturation and reduce respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), the major killer of preterm infants. She championed this usage long before the wide adoption of antenatal steroid use reinforced that this technique resulted in significant reduction in RDS and contributed to the improved survival of low birthweight preterm infants.
Dr. Klein started the Maternal Fetal Medicine departments at Emory University and Grady Hospital, paving her own way to becoming an early leader in the field. She shattered glass ceilings, becoming the first woman to chair a medical school department at Emory in 1986 and the first woman president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 1984. In addition to being a recipient of the Elizabeth Blackwell award, she received the Family Health International Distinguished Recognition Award and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists award for Outstanding Distinguished Service. The ACOG Lifetime Achievement Award was named in her honor—the Luella Klein Lifetime Achievement Award. She was also elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science.
https://med.uth.edu/newsletter/dr-luella-klein-trailblazer-for-women/(accessed April 29, 2021)http://www.emorydailypulse.com/2015/08/27/legacy-emory-grady-luella-klein-md/(accessedApril 29, 2021)
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