Dr. Marianne J. Legato is an internationally recognized specialist in women's health and the founder and director of the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University. She has devoted much of her research to the subject of women and heart disease and in 1992 won the American Heart Association's Blakeslee Award for a book she wrote for the public on women and heart disease. She is the founder and editor of The Journal of Gender-Specific Medicine and a leading advocate for the inclusion of women in clinical trials.
Marianne J. Legato was born in 1935, in New York. She grew up accompanying her father, a general practitioner, on house calls and hospital rounds, and knew by the age of 3 that she wanted to follow him into a career in medicine. Although he had high expectations for his daughter, her father was anxious to protect her and opposed her decision to go to medical school. She enrolled at his alma mater, New York University College of Medicine, but could not persuade him to allow her to have her independence and a career in medicine.
Sadly, Dr. Legato was forced to begin her career without the support of her family. She credits her success in medical school and after graduation to the mentorship of Dr. Jose Ferrer and Dr. M. Irené Ferrer, whom she met at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. M. Irené Ferrer even visited the dean of New York University College of Medicine to arrange for Legato to complete her tuition, and paid the fees herself. Dr. Legato has two children, Christiana and Justin, who have grown up as part of Dr. Ferrer's extended family and know her as "gran".
After graduating in 1962, Dr. Legato completed an internship and junior residency at Bellevue Hospital and a senior residency at the Presbyterian Hospital of the City of New York. From 1965 to 1968 she was a visiting fellow in cardiology at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and in 1968 she was appointed instructor in medicine, beginning an academic career at the university, which she continues today as a professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Since 1969, Dr. Legato has been an attending physician at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, and since 1973 she has also worked as physician in medicine at the Presbyterian Hospital in the City of New York. She is currently senior attending physician at St. Luke's-Roosevelt and has been an attending physician at the Presbyterian Hospital since 1998. She has held several teaching appointments and committee memberships at both institutions, and in 1997 founded the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is also the founder and editor of the Journal of Gender-Specific Medicine.
As director of the Partnership, Dr. Legato promotes collaboration between academic medicine and the private sector to promote research on gender-specific medicine. Her mission is to ensure the inclusion of women in clinical trials of relevance to the health of both sexes, to promote the study of differences in the biology of men and women and how gender affects the diagnosis and treatment of disease, for the benefit of all patients. The Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine is raising funds for the M. Irené Ferrer Professorship in Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University.
Dr. Legato has won extensive professional recognition for her work, including the Martha Lyon Slater Fellowship from 1965 to 1968 and in 1971, the J. Murray Steele Award, both from the New York Heart Association. In 2002 she received the Woman in Science Award from the American Medical Women's Association.
Dr. Legato is also a popular author and speaker for non-medical audiences, and in 1992 won the American Heart Association's Blakeslee Award for the best book on cardiovascular disease written for the lay public. She has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and the Oprah Winfrey Show and was named and 'American Health Hero' by American Health for Women magazine in 1997 and A 'Heroine of Women's Health' by the Ladies Home Journal in the fall of 2000.