Former NIH Senior Advisor, IC Director Vaitukaitis Remembered

Vaitukaitis

Dr. Judith Vaitukaitis

Photo: Ernie Branson

Dr. Judith Vaitukaitis, 78, an accomplished reproductive neuroendocrinologist and clinical researcher, died Oct. 19 at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut.

She retired from NIH in 2005 as a senior advisor to the NIH director on scientific infrastructure and resources. Prior to her appointment to this position, she served as director of the former National Center for Research Resources from 1993 to 2005, where she also held positions as the center’s deputy director and director of the General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) program.

Prior to joining NCRR, Vaitukaitis was professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), where she also directed the GCRC and headed the section on endocrinology and metabolism at Boston City Hospital.

Vaitukaitis began her tenure at NIH in 1970 as a postdoctoral researcher, studying human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), first at NCI and then as a senior investigator in NICHD’s Reproduction Research Branch. There, she and colleagues were interested in accurately detecting elevated hCG levels to find cancer and recognized that because hCG is secreted during pregnancy as well, a sensitive hCG assay might also detect early-stage pregnancy. They published a landmark paper in 1972 that described the assay; the first home pregnancy tests, marketed to consumers in 1978, were based on their method.

Vaitukaitis received her B.S. in chemistry and biology from Tufts University in 1962 and earned her M.D. in 1966 from BUSM. She completed her residency at Cornell Medical Services, Bellevue Memorial Hospital, New York City.

Born in Hartford, she grew up in nearby Windsor Locks. She was an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and the New York Giants. In her spare time, she enjoyed golf with her friends.