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Gayle, Helene D. 1955–

Helene D. Gayle 1955

Epidemiologist, researcher

At a Glance

Selected writings

Sources

Sometimes it gets to me, confessed Dr. Helene D. Gayle, one of the nations top scientists in Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) research, in Black Enterprise. The demands are great because the disease is overwhelming. The virus is so difficult to prevent that it gets frustrating. But we just have to keep working.

For more than two decades, first as head of international AIDS research at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and then as director of the HIV, TB, and Reproductive Health division at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gayle has devoted herself to efforts to treat and prevent the epidemic spread of the human immunodeficiency virus or HIVthe cause of AIDS. Her work has taken her to cities throughout the world, including Kinshasa, Zaire; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; and Bangkok, Thailand. At the CDC, Gayle oversaw the efforts of more than three hundred scientists who interpreted and published data covering all facets of the HIV infection. Commending her as a study in diplomacy, Renee D. Turner wrote in Ebony that colleagues consider Gayle one of the most effective professionals working in AIDS research because of her solid scientific background and because she is a physician with a heart.

Born on August 16,1955, in Buffalo, New York, Gayle is the third of five children. Her father, Jacob Gayle, Sr., was an entrepreneur. Marietta, her mother, was a psychiatric social worker. In the Ebony profile, Gayles brother Jay characterized her as the familys free spirit. (Jay is also a doctor affiliated with CDC, serving as director of Minority HIV Policy Coordination.) Gayle was greatly influenced by her parents attitude toward hard work, responsibility, and noble aspirations. She told Turner, Both of my parents felt strongly that to make a contribution to the world around us is one of the greatest things you can do.

While in school in Buffalo, Gayle was head of a black student group. Affected by the civil rights movement as an adolescent, she pursued a study of psychology at New Yorks prestigious Barnard College. While still an undergraduate, Gayle heard a speech by Dr. D. A. Henderson on the efforts made worldwide to eradicate smallpox, a highly contagious and deadly virus that devastated the human population until a vaccination against it became available. That speech helped encourage Gayle to train for a medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania, because it afforded her the opportunity to be involved in the social and political aspects of medicine. She also pursued a masters degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University, and she served her pediatric internship and residency at Childrens Hospital National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

In 1984 Gayle was selected to enter the renowned epidemiology training program at the CDC. Her preventive medicine residency at the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service focused on the AIDS virus. Between 1984 and 2001, Gayle rose through the ranks at the CDC, eventually becoming the director of the National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention. In her various positions at the CDC, Gayle concentrated on the effect of AIDS on children, adolescents, and

At a Glance

Born on August 16, 1955, in Buffalo, NY; daughter of Jacob A. (an entrepreneur) and Marietta D. (a psychiatric social worker) Gayle. Education: Barnard College, NY, BA, 1976; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, MD, 1981; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, MPH, 1981.

Career: Childrens Hospital National Medical Center, Washington, DC, pediatric resident, 1981-84; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA, resident with Epidemic Intelligence Service, 1984-86; CDC, Division of HIV/AIDS, medical epidemiologist, 1984-95; U.S. Agency for International Development, AIDS Division, Washington, DC, medical researcher, 1992-95; CDC, National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, director, 1995-2001; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, WA, director of the HIV, TB and Reproductive Health Program, 2001-; U.S. Public Health Service, Washington, DC, Assistant Surgeon General and Rear Admiral, 2001-. Lecturer at numerous universities, including Emory University, Atlanta, GA; member of editorial board, Annual Review of Public Health; consultant to international agencies, including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, and UNAID.

Memberships: International AIDS Society, president, 2004-06; National Medical Association; American Public Health Association; American Academy of Pediatrics; Institute of Medicine; Council on Foreign Relations.

Selected awards: U.S. Public Health Service achievement medal, 1989; US Public Health Meritorious Service Medal, 1996; National Medical Association, Scroll of Merit Award, 2000; Barnard College, Columbia University, Barnard Woman of Achievement, 2001; Women of Color, Health Science & Technology Awards, Medical Leadership in Industry Award, 2002.

Addresses: Officec/o Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PO Box 23350, Seattle, WA 98102.

families. In the early 1990s, she began investigating the global ramifications of the illness. While at the CDC, she also served as medical researcher in the AIDS Division of the U.S. Agency for International Development, which allowed her to combine her commitment to public health service with an opportunity to further examine the effects of the virus throughout the world. According to CDC director Dr. David Satcher, quoted on the CDC Web site, Dr. Gayle exemplifies the best in public health leadership. For over a decade, she has made significant contributions to the international and domestic study, control, and prevention of HIV and AIDS and other infectious diseases.

The author of numerous reports on the risk factors involved in the disease, Gayle published information that showed the devastating effect of AIDS on the black community. By the late 1980s, although only 11 percent of American women were black, black women constituted 52 percent of the female AIDS population across the country. Among children stricken with the AIDS virus in the same time frame, 53 percent were black. The World Health Organization estimated eight to ten million cases of the HIV infection existed on all continents in the early 1990s, yet five million cases were reported in Africa alone. AIDS presents a challenge to deal with problems weve been twiddling our thumbs over, Gayle told Black Enterprise. We havent talked about important issues like sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse in recent years. Its important that we have equitable health care. AIDS has pushed that need to the limit.

Laboring to make clear to the public how the virus is contracted, Gayle studies societies and age groups around the globe. Her work involves teaching people about the ways in which human beings are infected and how related diseases occur. Gayle told Turner that personal behaviors, which are culturally influenced and which societies are not very comfortable in facing, contribute significantly to the spread of the disease. To counter cultural factors in certain areas, such as parts of southeast Asia where adolescent prostitution is widespread, Gayle has championed the development of female condoms and vaginal virucides.

Substance abuse contributes greatly to the growing number of AIDS cases, especially among poverty-stricken communities where drug abuse is rampant and the practice of sharing needles provides a direct route for the virus. Gayle told Turner that sex for drugs clearly plays a role. And alcohol use, while it doesnt directly cause AIDS, decreases peoples ability to make rational choices. As the doctor pointed out in a New England Journal of Medicine article on the incidence of HIV among college students, many people still do not understand how the HIV infection is transmitted, and even those who do may not consider themselves at risk when they engage in high-risk behaviors.

In 2001, Gayle seized the opportunity to further her work with AIDS prevention when she took the position of director of the HIV, TB and Reproductive Health Program with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a non-profit health organization funded by Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates and his wife. At the Gates Foundation, Gayle worked with a $300-million dollar budget. At the same time, Gayle was named Assistant Surgeon General and Read Admiral in the United States Public Health Service. With the financial support of the Gates Foundation, and with her connections in the government and the medical community, Gayle set her sights on working with governments throughout the world to increase AIDS awareness and prevention.

Gayle has chosen advocacy on public health over a more lucrative career in private practice, and she remains unmarried. But Gayle revealed to Turner, I dont regret having placed a high priority on a career that enables me to make a contribution to humankind. At some point there may be reasons why I would want to shift those priorities. In the meantimemy life [is] very full.

Selected writings

Books

Editor, Global Mobilization for HIV Prevention: A Blueprint for Action, Kaiser Family Foundation, 2002.

Other

Contributor to professional journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine.

Sources

Periodicals

Black Enterprise, October 1988.

Clinical Infectious Diseases, July 1, 2001, p. ii.

Current Biography, January 2002, pp. 48-53.

Ebony, November 1991.

Health Care Financing Review, Summer 2001, p. 208.

New England Journal of Medicine, November 29, 1990.

New York Times, August 28, 2001, p. 6.

Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2001, p. A5.

On-line

AIDS in America, Online NewsHour, www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/july-dec99/aids_8-31.html (July 23, 2004).

CDC Honors Dr. Helene Gayle, CDC, www.cdc.gov/nchstp/od/gayle.htm (July 23, 2004).

Helene Gayle, M.D., M.P.H., Director, HIV, TB, and Reproductive Health, Gates Foundation, www.gatesfoundation.org/AboutUs/LeadershipStaff/BioGHGayle.htm (July 23, 2004).

Marjorie Burgess and Tom Pendergast

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"Gayle, Helene D. 1955–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gayle, Helene D. 1955–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/gayle-helene-d-1955-0

"Gayle, Helene D. 1955–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/gayle-helene-d-1955-0

Gayle, Helene D. 1955–

Helene D. Gayle 1955

Epidemiologist, AIDS researcher

At a Glance

Selected writings

Sources

Sometimes it gets to me, confessed Dr. Helene D. Gayle, one of the nations top epidemiologists in Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) research, in Black Enterprise. The demands are great because the disease is overwhelming. The virus is so difficult to prevent that it gets frustrating. But we just have to keep working.

For nearly a decade, Gayle served as chief of international AIDS research at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. Attempting to treat the epidemic spread of the human immunodeficiency virus or HIVthe cause of AIDShas taken her to cities throughout the world, including Kinshasa, Zaire; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; and Bangkok, Thailand. Gayle oversaw the efforts of more than three hundred scientists at the CDC who interpret and publish data covering all facets of the HIV infection. Commending her as a study in diplomacy, Renee D. Turner wrote in Ebony that colleagues consider Gayle one of the most effective professionals working in AIDS research because of her solid scientific background and because she is a physician with a heart.

Born August 16,1955, in Buffalo, New York, Gayle is the third of five children. Her father, Jacob Gayle, Sr., was an entrepreneur. Marietta, her mother, was a psychiatric social worker. In the Ebony profile, Gayles brother Jay characterized her as the familys free spirit. (Jay is also a doctor affiliated with CDC, serving as director of Minority HIV Policy Coordination.) Gayle was greatly influenced by her parents attitude toward hard work, responsibility, and noble aspirations. She told Turner, Both of my parents felt strongly that to make a contribution to the world around us is one of the greatest things you can do.

While in school in Buffalo, Gayle was head of the black student group. Affected by the civil rights movement as an adolescent, she pursued a study of psychology at New Yorks prestigious Barnard College. Gayle revealed to Turner that she trained for a medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania because it afforded her the opportunity to be involved in the social and political aspects of medicine.

While still an undergraduate, Gayle heard a speech by Dr. D. A. Henderson on the efforts made worldwide to eradicate smallpox, a highly contagious and deadly virus that devastated the human population until a vaccination against it

At a Glance

Born Helene Doris Gayle, August 16, 1955, in Buffalo, NY; daughter of Jacob A. (an entrepreneur) and Marietta D. (a psychiatric social worker) Gayle. Education: Barnard College, B.A., 1976; University of Pennsylvania, M.D., 1981; Johns Hopkins University, M.P.H., 1981.

Epidemiologist; AIDS researcher; author or coauthor of numerous reports on AIDS and the HIV virus. Childrens Hospital National Medical Center, Washington, D.C., pediatric resident, 1981-84; Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Atlanta, GA, resident with Epidemic Intelligence Service, 1984-86; medical epidemiologist with CDCs Division of HIV/AIDS, 1984-92; U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington, DC/Virginia, medical epidemiologist and researcher in AIDS Division, 1992.

Member: International AIDS Society, National Medical Association, American Public Health Association, American Academy of Pediatrics.

Awards: Henrietta & Jacob Lowenburg Prize, 1981; Joel Gordon Miller Award, 1981; administrators and black faculty merit award, University of Pennsylvania, 1981; U.S. Public Health Service achievement medal, 1989; Celebration of Public Service Award, 1990.

Addresses: Office c/o Office of Research and Development, U.S. Agency for International Development, Room 1200, Washington, DC 20523.

became available. The speech inspired Gayle to further her education with a degree in public health. After earning her masters degree from Johns Hopkins University, she served her pediatric internship and residency at Childrens Hospital National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

In 1984 Gayle was selected to enter the renowned epidemiology training program at the CDC. Her preventive medicine residency at the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service focused on the AIDS virus. In her various positions at the CDC, Gayle concentrated on the effect of AIDS on children, adolescents, and families. In the early 1990s, she began investigating the global ramifications of the illness. Her present position as medical researcher in the AIDS Division of the U.S. Agency for International Development combines her commitment to public health service with an opportunity to further examine the effects of the virus throughout the world.

The author of numerous reports on the risk factors involved in the disease, Gayle published information that showed the devastating effect of AIDS on the black community. By the late 1980s, although only 11% of American women were black, black women constituted 52% of the female AIDS population across the country. Among children stricken with the AIDS virus in the same time frame, 53% were black. The World Health Organization estimated eight to ten million cases of the HIV infection existed on all continents in the early 1990s, yet five million cases were reported in Africa alone. AIDS presents a challenge to deal with problems weve been twiddling our thumbs over, Gayle told Black Enterprise. We havent talked about important issues like sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse in recent years. Its important that we have equitable health care. AIDS has pushed that need to the limit.

Laboring to make clear to the public how the virus is contracted, Gayle studies societies and age groups around the globe. Her work involves teaching people about the ways in which human beings are infected and how related diseases occur. Gayle told Turner that personal behaviors, which are culturally influenced and which societies are not very comfortable in facing, contribute significantly to the spread of the disease. To counter cultural factors in certain areas, such as parts of southeast Asia where adolescent prostitution is widespread, Gayle champions the development of female condoms and vaginal virucides.

Substance abuse contributes greatly to the growing number of AIDS cases, especially among poverty-stricken communities where drug abuse is rampant and the practice of sharing needles provides a direct route for the virus. Gayle told Turner that sex for drugs clearly plays a role. And alcohol use, while it doesnt directly cause AIDS, decreases peoples ability to make rational choices. As the doctor pointed out in a New England Journal of Medicine article on the incidence of HIV among college students, many people still do not understand how the HIV infection is transmitted, and even those who do may not consider themselves at risk when they engage in high-risk behaviors.

Choosing not to pursue a more lucrative career in private practice, Gayle revealed to Turner, I dont regret having placed a high priority on a career that enables me to make a contribution to humankind. At some point there may be reasons why I would want to shift those priorities. In the meantime my life [is] very full.

Selected writings

Contributor to professional journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine.

Sources

Black Enterprise, October 1988.

Ebony, November 1991.

New England Journal of Medicine, November 29,1990.

Marjorie Burgess

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Gayle, Helene D. 1955–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Gayle, Helene D. 1955–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/gayle-helene-d-1955

"Gayle, Helene D. 1955–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/gayle-helene-d-1955