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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

NIH Mourns Nursing Research Pioneer Fagin

Dr. Claire Fagin

Dr. Claire Mintzner Fagin


Dr.  Claire Mintzner Fagin, a trailblazer in the field of nursing and nursing research and a former NIH staffer, passed away on Jan. 16 at age 97. In the early 1950s, she served as the first director of children’s programs at the Clinical Center for the National Institute of Mental Health.

In addition to her tenure at NIH, the list of Fagin’s accomplishments is long. She was a nurse, educator, nurse scientist, nursing advocate and one of the first women to lead an Ivy League school, serving as interim president at the University of Pennsylvania in 1993-1994. 

A member of the first generation of nurse scientists, she undertook research to improve patient care and pushed for practitioners to have a science-based education at colleges and universities, pioneering landmark baccalaureate and doctoral programs to raise the bar in education and status of the next generation of clinicians.

“I am sorry that I did not have the opportunity to know Dr. Fagin, who so clearly was a tremendous force for good at NIH,” noted NIH Director Dr. Monica Bertagnolli in a joint statement with Dr. Shannon Zenk, director of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). “Dr. Fagin was a transformational leader who inspired a generation of nurse scientists through her advocacy and by elevating the nursing profession through science and rigor, while also prioritizing the holistic perspective of nurses. As a prominent and trailblazing woman in science, her legacy lives on through the women scientists for which she helped pave the way, and through her influence on the innovative work of nurse scientists supported by NINR and across NIH. We will honor her legacy by doing all that we can to carry this valuable work forward.”

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