Dr. Trudy Bush, 52, researcher of women's health issues

March 18, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dr. Trudy L. Bush, professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine whose work in the field of women's health brought her international acclaim, died Wednesday of undetermined causes at her Ellicott City home. She was 52.

Dr. Bush was considered an expert on menopause, osteoporosis and hormone replacement as a means of preventing heart disease in women.

"Dr. Bush was a highly valued faculty member, an expert in cardiovascular diseases and a strong proponent of initiatives in women's health. Her research talent and experience will be greatly missed," said Dr. Donald E. Wilson, president for medical affairs and dean of the University of Maryland medical school.

Her research indicated the benefits of hormone replacement therapy for the majority of American women and showed that quitting smoking and controlling blood pressure were important in avoiding heart disease in older women.

Dr. Bush, who wrote widely on those subjects, also maintained a research interest in cancers, particularly breast and ovarian cancer.

"She has done extremely important work in women's health, cardiovascular disease in women and hormone replacement. She always had lots of new ideas and at her death was going strong. She was a star," said Dr. Patricia Langenbert, vice chairwoman and director of the Women's Health Research Group at the University of Maryland medical school.

"She was extremely talented and was not afraid to go against generally believed thoughts. She stuck her neck out and publicly disagreed if people hadn't really looked at and studied the data. She was a true scientist."

Described by colleagues as "very down-to-earth and modest," Dr. Bush worked out of a book-crammed office filled with carefully organized files. The walls were decorated with colorful posters and portraits of medical luminaries who were a source of inspiration to her.

"She had the type of personality that could fill a room. Her work was respected, and she was always in demand as a speaker. She was a fine scientist, and people respected her views. She brought a relaxed tone, humor and a warmth to her lectures," Dr. Langenbert said.

When a 1999 study suggested that estrogen didn't protect women from heart disease because a genetic change might be blocking blood vessels' ability to respond to the benefits of estrogen, Dr. Bush responded.

"In many ways this is a very exciting finding, because it goes ... down to the very level of the gene. It gives us then a way to treat the problem," she told The Sun.

Dr. Bush also said that women who took two female hormones, estrogen and progestin, commonly prescribed to quell the symptoms of menopause, also had a lower risk of heart attack and stroke.

Dr. Bush was born and raised in Uniontown, Pa. She received a bachelor's degree in psychology in 1969 and a master's degree in sociology in 1972, both from Pennsylvania State University.

In 1977, she received a doctorate in sociology and demography from Penn State and a master's degree in epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health.

She began her career as an assistant professor in the sociology department at Shippensburg State College in Pennsylvania.

Since 1994, Dr. Bush had been a member of the University of Maryland School of Medicine faculty. She was an adjunct professor in the department of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health and an adjunct professor in the department of gynecology and obstetrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Dr. Bush enjoyed playing the piano and playing bridge. She was an avid student of World War II and maintained a large library devoted to the subject.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. March 25 at the Homewood Friends Meeting, 3107 N. Charles St.

She is survived by her daughter, Emily Ruth Bush Miller of Ellicott City; a half-sister, Nancy Kreps Cover of Redford, Mich.; and her companion of 23 years, Dr. Sue Miller of Ellicott City.

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