Dr. Carol H. Letendre ’58

During more than three decades at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Carol Hilary Letendre ’58 guided research on the management of hemophilia and sickle cell disease, stem cell transplants, and the role of blood clots in heart attacks.

Letendre began her career at the NIH as a research chemist in National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Laboratory of Biomedical Sciences. In 1980, she was named director of the National Institute of Aging’s dermatology program before joining the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) as executive secretary of the institute’s research manpower review committee in the Division of Extramural Affairs. In 1983, Letendre became program administrator for the NHLBI’s Division of Blood Diseases and Resources, and in 1986 was named the division’s deputy director.

During her tenure at the NIH, Letendre developed a specific interest in the study and treatment of arterial thrombosis and helped establish a research program to explore the molecular genetics of the disorder. She also helped develop a national blood safety program and contributed to the development of NHLBI’s stem cell research and stem cell transplantation programs.

She won an NIH Director’s Award in 1999 for her work as a member of the trans-NIH zebrafish coordinating committee and retired in 2001.

Born in Mount Sterling, Ky., Letendre earned a B.S. in biology and chemistry from William Smith, where she served as a member of the judicial board, student council and Schola Cantorum; president of the Big Sister Committee; sophomore class secretary; junior class president; senior class treasurer; president of Campus Crest; and secretary of Epsilon Pi Sigma. She received a master’s degree in nutritional science in 1962 and a doctorate in biochemistry in 1965, both from Cornell University.

Letendre completed four years of postdoctoral study at the Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology in Paris and was a research associate at the University of Virginia before joining NIH.

Her memberships included the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the American Society of Hematology. In 1999, she received the NIH director’s award.

Letendre passed away in August 2013. She is survived by two sons, Dr. Kenneth A. Letendre and Robert W. Letendre Jr.; a brother, Richard Hilary; a sister, Sue Hilary Castillo; a granddaughter; and by her former husband, Robert W. Letendre Sr.