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Science Writer Joyce Doherty Dies

By Joan Chamberlain

Joyce Doherty, former science writer for NCI and NEI, died Feb. 28 in Bloomington, Ind., of pancreatic cancer.

From 1981 to 1988, she worked in NCI's press office on issues ranging from the discovery of the AIDS virus, first known as HTLV-3, to experimental cancer therapies such as interleukin-2. Of her demanding, "whirlwind" interaction with the press, she recalled, "We were at the heart of a very important activity, explaining and defending institute research and positions. We succeeded most of the time. It was an honor to be associated with the NIH, and I was always proud to say I worked there."

NIH retirees Jim and Joyce Doherty. Joyce died on Feb. 28.

"Joyce was always upbeat and poised for action no matter how tense the situation, and press work is often very stressful," said Pat Newman, chief of the NCI press office. "Though she left the NIH more than a decade ago, we kept in touch and had a warm personal relationship until her death."

In 1988, Doherty joined NEI's information office, where she wrote speeches and information about eye diseases for patients and the lay public. She retired in 1992 and 2 years later moved to Bloomington with her husband Jim, who retired from NCRR as information officer. The Dohertys traveled to Ireland, Kenya, Sicily and the Caribbean, but their first love was the vibrant cultural life they found in Bloomington and the home they were constantly "building, painting, designing, tearing down, and putting back together, much to our neighbors' amusement," said Joyce, who loved nothing more than to contemplate her summer garden from the deck she built. "I don't think I ever visited their home without being brought up to date on the latest project," said family friend Rev. Bernard Head, who remembered Joyce's "dedication to home and husband and her no-nonsense wisdom about the big issues of life."

Born in St. Paul, Minn., Doherty received her B.A. from St. Thomas College and her M.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame. She taught English in several Minnesota high schools and was working toward her doctorate in English at Notre Dame when she met and married Jim, a fellow graduate student. Before coming to NIH, Doherty served as information officer for the U.S. Water Resources Council, a small presidential commission that was phased out during the Reagan administration.

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