Whatever Happened To ... Nina Hyde?

By Holly E. Thomas
Sunday, January 17, 2010; W03

Nina Hyde, the late Washington Post fashion editor who died in 1990, left more than a journalistic legacy. She left a breast cancer research center established in her honor, and, 20 years on, the center is playing a vital role in fighting the disease.

Over her nearly 30-year career, Hyde covered fashion with wit, wry humor and the mind-set that style wasn't frivolous but an essential part of daily life. Her New Year's Day "ins and outs" list became a cultural phenomenon, and she was considered a leading expert in her field. Later, during the five-year span between her cancer diagnosis and her death, Hyde promoted awareness of advanced breast cancer and raised nearly $2 million for Georgetown University Medical Center.

The Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research was founded in 1989, with support from fashion designer Ralph Lauren and late Washington Post Co. publisher Katharine Graham. According to ISI Thompson Scientific, Georgetown University is now ranked sixth in the world for the number of scientific papers on breast cancer.

Leading the charge are Claudine Isaacs and Robert Clarke, who guide research on treatment for at-risk women, surgical approaches, symptom management and tackling advanced breast cancer. The research garners more than $10 million in direct annual funding.

"The outlook for women with breast cancer has improved significantly," says Isaacs, a 16-year veteran of the program. "We've shown that there are real things that we can do, so we know we can help women at risk for breast cancer. We're not peering into a crystal ball anymore. We try and make a bad time better."

The center named for Nina Hyde has contributed greatly to this progress. "Working together is essential, and bringing us under one roof has made a real difference," Isaacs says. Clarke agrees. "The community of breast cancer researchers that we have here is clearly a world-class community," he says. "And that's quite a legacy."

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