Physician-scientist J. David Curb, MD, MPH, long associated with the University of Hawai’i John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Department of Geriatric Medicine and the Kuakini Medical Center, died Sunday, January 8, at the age of 66.
Dr. Curb’s impact on health care in the islands was significant. He brought numerous research projects to Hawaiʻi, including the national Women’s Health Initiative, a long-term study of women’s health. The author of more than 400 articles in medical journals during his career, Curb also served as a mentor to dozens of researchers who have authored groundbreaking studies of their own.
“Dr. Curb was an internationally renowned investigator in aging, with special emphasis on the epidemiology of cardiovascular disease and women’s health,” said University of Hawai’i physician Dr. Patricia Blanchette. “He was also an excellent teacher and mentor for new researchers and was thrilled to see them succeed in their own careers.”
Among the pioneering studies by Curb’s protégés was the 2008 discovery under Kuakini Medical Center sponsored research which first identified a gene linked to longevity. Dr. J. Bradley Willcox found a higher prevalence of the FOX O3A gene in Japanese-American men who lived to age 100 or older. Willcox and his associates, including Dr. Curb, reached their conclusion after studying data from the Kuakini Honolulu Heart Program (HHP), which since 1965 has been observing the incidence of coronary heart disease and stroke in about 8,000 men of Japanese ancestry living on O’ahu.
“David has been of one the giants on the research scene in Hawai’i over the past few decades,” said J. Bradley Willcox, MD. “He brought millions of dollars in research funds to the state and built one of the strongest federally funded research programs in the U.S for aging-related research. He was a visionary that still found the time to mentor many scientists, including myself, to become successful researchers. To many he has been a much loved mentor, collaborator and friend that will be sorely missed,” Willcox said.
Dr. Curb led research at the Kuakini HHP, which has also played an important role in the U.S. government’s recommended dietary guidelines, in the development of “smoke-free” programs for primary and secondary schools, and in the development of rehabilitation programs for heart attack victims.
“Kuakini will miss the presence of Dr. Curb as a friend and a scholar, his scientific contributions and collegiality, and his longstanding support of building on the legacy of the Kuakini HHP participants and expansion of Kuakini’s research initiatives.” said Gary Kajiwara, President and CEO, Kuakini Medical Center.
Dr. Curb’s career also included serving as Associate Director of the National Institute on Aging, where he headed the country’s studies into patterns of disease in old age. Dr. Curb is survived by his wife, Beatriz L. Rodriguez, MD, PhD, sons Jess Curb, 29, and William Curb, 26, and daughters Maria Curb, 14, and Isabel Curb, 13.
Gifts in Dr. Curb’s honor may be made to the University of Hawai’i Foundation to benefit the J. David Curb, MD Memorial Fund at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. Checks may be made payable and sent to the University of Hawai’i Foundation, P.O. Box 11270, Honolulu, HI 96828-027. Alternatively you may make gifts online, via the UH Foundation, to the J David Curb Memorial Fund.