Dr. Mortimer B. Lipsett, 64, a physician, researcher and administrator who was a high official of the National Institutes of Health, died of cancer Nov. 10 at the NIH Clinical Center. He lived in Bethesda.

Since January 1985, he had been director of the National Institute of Arthritis, Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Before that, he had spent three years as director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. He also had served as director of the NIH Clinical Center.

Dr. Lipsett was an authority in endocrinology, especially the relationship between hormones and cancers. He conducted research of patients undergoing treatment for advanced breast cancer and became founding chairman of of the Breast Cancer Task Force, which led to much of the treatment of breast cancer today.

Research he and his colleagues conducted over the years concerning the use of aggressive chemotherapy also has been applied to leukemias. His work also led to advances in studies of reproductive endocrinology, including work concerning hormonal changes in normal and abnormal menstrual cycles.

During the past three decades, Dr. Lipsett's awards have included the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Cancer Research and the Endocine Society's distinguished service award. The Department of Health and Human Services had given him its senior executive performance award, the distinguished service award, the senior executive service meritorious rank award and its distinguished andrologist award.

Dr. Lipsett came to Washington and began his career at NIH in 1957. He became endrocinology branch chief of the National Cancer Institute in 1966. He was head of the Cancer Center of Northeast Ohio and professor at the medical school of the Case Western Reserve University from 1974 to 1976. He then returned to NIH as head of its Clinical Center, a post he held until being named director of the Child Health and Human Development Institute in 1982.

He was a past president of the American Endocrine Society and past secretary general of the International Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism. The author of more than 275 technical works, he had served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism and also had been coeditor-in-chief of the Journal of Hormone and Metabolic Research.

Dr. Lipsett was born in New York City. He was a 1943 graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, and a master's degree and a medical doctorate at the University of Southern California. He served with elite 10th Mountain Division in Italy during World War II, earning three Bronze Star Medals. Before joining NIH, he was a research fellow at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

His hobbies included squash, tennis and chess. A life bridge master, he was cowinner 18th annual City of Washington championship, sponsored by the Washington Bridge League, in 1966.

His marriage to the former Marie Nieft, ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Lois, of Bethesda; two sons by his first marriage, Roger, of Bethesda, and Edward, of Tokyo; two stepchildren, Alan Tomkins of Silver Spring, and Janice Jackson of Rockville, and five grandchildren.