Celia White Tabor, NIH scientist

December 30, 2012

Celia White Tabor, 94, a longtime biochemical researcher at the National Institutes of Health, died Dec. 2 at her home in Bethesda. She had cardiopulmonary arrest, her son Edward Tabor said.

Dr. Tabor joined the NIH in 1952 and worked in a biochemical research laboratory, later headed by her husband, Herbert Tabor, at the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Their work centered on the biochemistry of biologically important polyamines, or compounds that play a role in controlling the growth of normal cells and cancer cells.

She retired in 2005. Her husband is still an active researcher at the laboratory.

Celia White was born in Boston and was a 1940 graduate of Radcliffe College, a women’s college then affiliated with Harvard University. She was one of six women in her class at Columbia University’s medical school, from which she graduated in 1943.

She later became, according to published reports, the first female intern at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She was an assistant medical resident at Vanderbilt University in Nashville before coming to Washington in 1946.

Dr. Tabor did biochemical research at George Washington University and was an attending physician at a forerunner of D.C. General Hospital before joining the NIH.

She and her husband received the 1986 Hillebrand Prize from the Chemical Society of Washington and the 1995 William C. Rose Award of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Survivors include her husband of 66 years, of Bethesda; four children, Edward Tabor of Bethesda, Stanley Tabor of Brookline, Mass., and twins Marilyn Tabor of Cambridge, Mass., and Richard Tabor of Moss Beach, Calif.; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

— Matt Schudel