In Memorium, Donna Vredevoe

Donna Vredevoe, who had a long and distinguished career as a member of the School of Nursing faculty, chair of the Academic Senate and Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel, passed away on September 21 after a long illness.

Vredevoe was a True Bruin. The daughter of a former professor in the Graduate School of Education, she received her BA in bacteriology from UCLA in 1959 and her PhD in Microbiology in 1963. Her daughter, Verna Porter-Buxton, MD is a UCLA physician and an associate clinical professor in Neurology

In 1967 she was appointed to the faculty of the School of Nursing by the first Dean, Lulu Wolf Hassenplug; an unusual move because Vredevoe was not a nurse. “Donna Vredevoe was a pioneer, the first faculty member to be hired at the school with basic science experience,” said Courtney H. Lyder, dean of the UCLA School of Nursing.

“ Over the years, her extensive research and mentoring of faculty helped to uncovered ways for nursing interventions to make a difference in patient care. Her legacy will be felt for decades to come.” In an early model of interdisciplinary collaboration, Vredevoe collaborated with nursing faculty in providing the critical basic science background for the nursing curriculum. She created the first stand-alone immunology course in a school of nursing which was foundational for several research endeavors as well as providing the foundation for clinical practice interventions, and served as a model for other schools of nursing.

In 1999, she was elected as Chair of the Academic Senate and in 2001, Vredevoe was named Vice Chancellor of Academic Personnel at UCLA. She retired in 2006.  

Early in her career, Vredevoe’s scientific contributions in the field of immunology and tissue transplantation included seminal papers with Dr. Paul Terasaki on tissue typing that became foundational for the field of organ transplantation. Her early studies on viral carcinogenesis, before the recognition of the relationship between viruses and cancer were known, were also important to our understanding of the role of retroviruses on disease. Her later work on the impact of chemical pollutants provided important information about immunologic effects and the environment and the relationship of heart disease to immune dysfunction. Her work was published in the prestigious journals Nature and Science.

As a funded researcher, she provided mentorship in research methodology and grant writing to both students and young faculty in the development of their research programs. In one of many examples of interdisciplinary collaboration, Donna was a Principal Investigator on a federal grant to fund one of the first oncology nursing graduate programs in the United States. And, she was one of the senior editors of one of the first modern text books in oncology nursing which won an American Journal of Nursing book of the year award.

In addition to her daughter, Vredevoe is survived by her husband, John Porter, her son-in-law, William Buxton, MD (also an assistant clinical professor at UCLA) and three grandchildren.

A memorial on campus will be scheduled for a later date. Flags will fly at half mast in honor of Vredevoe on November 3, 2011. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the John and Donna Vredevoe Porter Scholarship fund and mailed to the Methodist Foundation at the address above (include Vredevoe Porter Scholarship Fund in the memo line).