Debra Judelson (Class of 1969), is a nationally renowned clinical cardiologist, teacher, policy maker, and political advocate. She is recognized by the medical community as a “Passionate Proponent of Women’s Heart Health” as well as a pioneer in patient treatment and the education of medical professionals focusing on heart disease in women. Debra grew up in the same house in Patchogue in which her mother was born. She attended Bay Elementary, South Ocean Middle School, and graduated from Patchogue High School as her class valedictorian. Some of her fondest memories are learning to play the accordion and summers at the Patchogue Pool learning synchronized swimming.
She graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. Her medical training continued at the Kaiser Foundation Hospitals in San Francisco and Los Angeles, as an internist and cardiologist. Debra joined the Cardiovascular Medical Group of Southern California in 1981 and remained there until her retirement in 2016.
Debra has been on staff, on the Boards of Directors, and a Chief of Staff at several West Los Angeles hospitals. In 1976, her first year of internship, Debra noticed that women were having emergency treatments for heart attacks without earlier diagnoses of heart disease, even though the symptoms were noted in their charts. Championing an increased focus on the awareness of heart disease in female patients and their physicians is what has dominated Debra’s professional career. She established a Women’s Heart Institute, served as president of the American Medical Women’s Association, and in 1995 she created and chaired the American Medical Women’s Association Education Project on Coronary Heart Disease in Women. For 15 years, this “train the trainer” program has educated thousands of physicians to be aware of the prevalence of heart disease in women. Debra has participated in numerous policy panels related to women’s health, contributed to numerous articles and co-authored The Women’s Complete Wellness Book (1998). Debra’s contributions in this area resulted in her receiving the National Institutes of Health “Local Legends” award in 2005 and the American Medical Women’s Association Elizabeth Blackwell award for the women physicians who make the most outstanding contributions to women in the field of medicine (2007). Debra has held professorial positions at the University of Southern California, the Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine, and UCLA. In addition to numerous appointments to local, state, and federal medical organizations and policy panels, Debra has testified before U.S. Congressional committees and panels on women’s health care issues and reform.
Debra’s persistent advocacy has influenced state and federal legislation and she has received numerous acknowledgements and awards from federal and state elected officials. Debra is married to AJ Willmer whom she met at MIT. They have lived in Beverly Hills, California since 1981 and have two daughters who also attended MIT.