Debra Ruth Judelson, MD
Medical School: Harvard Medical School - Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology
Specialty: Cardiology, Internal Medicine
- Creator, Chair, main speaker: American Medical Women's Association Education Project: Coronary Heart Disease in Women, 1995-2005
- Local Legend (NIH, National Library of Medicine, NIH Office of Women's Health Research, and AMWA), 2005
- Healthcare Excellence, Wenger Award – National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease (womenheart.org) 2000
- Elizabeth Blackwell Award, AMWA, 2007
Service with AMWA: AMWA President 1996-1997 AMWA Website Creator and Chair; AMWA Program Chair, Chair Cardiovascular Disease, Women's Health Committee, Program Committee
Quote: Don't run with the crowd, find your own path and claim it. After a while, learn to be graceful in letting others lead new ways. This is progress as well as an opportunity to relax and recharge yourself.
Raised in Patchogue, NY, I went to college at MIT, majored in Metallurgy and Materials Science Engineering, won a national student award, and entered medical school thinking I would go into orthopedics. I found cardiology more to my liking, and ending up in Southern California, I joined Cardiovascular Medical Group of Southern California, married my college sweetheart and raised two daughters.
The most important events in my career started when AMWA gave me the opportunity to promote my passion, heart disease in women. As one of the few female cardiologists of my generation, I often spoke at AMWA meetings on heart disease in women, especially in the 1980s and early 1990s. An audience member offered to sponsor me with a major grant to develop a program which I wanted to use to train primary care physicians about risk factors, symptoms and diagnostic testing for coronary heart disease in women.
I brought this grant to AMWA after the American College of Cardiology declined, stating ‘at this time, heart disease in women does not merit the focused attention such a program would bring’. I worked with AMWA members and experts to develop a ‘train the trainer program’ to raise awareness in primary care physicians about heart disease in women in the early 1990’s, training 30 physicians as part of our Master Faculty, to share our CME curriculum all over the country starting in 1995. I also helped develop a Gallop Survey that found that “4 out of 5 American women did not know that heart disease in women was their number one cause of death, and 1 out of 3 primary care physicians didn’t know this either.” The Gallop Survey triggered a media frenzy, sending me all over the country, on radio and TV (including Oprah) to speak on heart disease in women. As a result of the attention, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology started their “Guidelines for Cardiovascular Disease in Women” including me as an author representing AMWA, for the original and all subsequent publications. The media attention, our curriculum and the Master Faculty members’ devotion STARTED the awareness all over the country about heart disease in women, and trained over 17,000 primary care physicians.
I am proud to have been able to work with AMWA to create a project that forever changed the way physicians and women view our risk of cardiovascular disease.