Dr. Claude Lenfant was the longest serving Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, leading it for 21 years until retiring in 2003.
He brought the Institute into the modern era of science with landmark initiatives such as the Programs of Excellence in Molecular Biology, the Proteomics Initiative, and NIH's first gene therapy protocol. The Institute's focus expanded with the establishment of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (1993) and oversight of the Women's Health Initiative (1997), while continuing its commitment to heart, lung, and blood disorders and blood safety.
As Director, he forged collaborations with scientific and clinical leaders to develop clinical guidelines for high blood pressure, asthma, cholesterol, and obesity. His legacy also included several important professional, public, and patient education programs, such as the Smoking Education Program (1985), National Cholesterol Education Program (1985), National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (1989), Act in Time to Heart Attack Signs (2001), and the Women's Heart Health Campaign (2001), which evolved into the widely recognized The Heart Truth campaign.
Previously, Dr. Lenfant directed the NIH Fogarty International Center and the Institute's lung division after serving as Professor of medicine and physiology and biophysics at the University of Washington, Seattle.