Herbert B. Woolley, 60, an economist with the National Institutes of Health, died of cancer Sunday at his Potomac home.

Mr. Woolley joined NIH as an economist in 1972. He began his career in economics in 1941 as a teaching fellow at Havard University and subsequently taught at New York University's graduate school of business administration.

An expert in the field of international economics, he had been manager of the economics department of the Caltex Oil Corporation and directed a study of world trade and payments for the National Bureau of Economic Research in New York City.

Prior to joining NIH, he had served in Saudi Arabia for the Ford Foundation and, from 1969 to 1971, in VIentaine, Laos, for the Agency for International Development.

Mr. Woolley was born at Logan, Utah. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1939 from Stanford University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1943, he earned a master's degree and, in 1947, a doctor's degree from Havard University, where he also was a Lehman Fellor from 1939 to 1941.

He was a longtime member of the National Economists Club and in 1966 published a book, "Measuring Transactions Between World Areas."

Survivors include his wife, E. Margaret Titsworth Woolley, of the home in Potomac; two sons, John H., of Hartford, Conn., and David B., of Potomac; four daughters, Nancy Saija, of Milan, Italy, Dianne Park, of Seattle, Susan Egan, of Arlington, and Pixie Woolley, of the home: two brothers, Elliot and Richard Woolley, both of Walnut Creek, Calif.; and five grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society.