Joyce E. Vana, research scientist, health official - The Buffalo News
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Joyce E. Vana, research scientist, health official

Aug. 5, 1930 – Aug. 6, 2013

Joyce Elaine Vana, Ph.D., a research scientist and public health official, died Tuesday in her Williamsville home under hospice care after a long illness. She had just turned 83.

Born in Little Falls, Minn., she was the daughter of Dr. Herman E. Hilleboe, New York State commissioner of health from 1946 to 1962. She was a 1952 graduate of Barnard College with a degree in philosophy and followed her father into a career in public health.

She later earned a master’s degree in health administration from the University of North Carolina and a doctorate in medical sociology from the University at Buffalo.

Early in her career, she worked for the World Health Organization in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the Epidemiology, Statistics and Mental Health divisions and the Tuberculosis Research Office.

She left Copenhagen in 1972, lived in Prague, Czechoslovakia, for two years, and moved to Williamsville in 1974 with her second husband, Dr. Joseph Vana, who came here to become director of the epidemiology department at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, then became chief psychiatrist at Erie County Medical Center. He died in 2004.

She worked with the Erie County Health Department, where she was program director of the High Blood Pressure Risk Reduction Program and director of the Planning, Development and Evaluation Unit.

From 1993 to 1995, she was a research scientist in the state Health Department’s Cancer Control Program, then became a research scientist and project director with UB’s Research Institute on Addictions.

After her retirement in 1998, Dr. Vana continued to consult part time with the state Healthy Heart Program.

An avid bird watcher, she was a member of the Buffalo Ornithological Society and many other local birding and nature groups.

She also was a strong supporter of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and traveled extensively.

Her first marriage, to Torben Kiaer, ended in divorce. She married Dr. Vana in 1973.

Survivors include a daughter, Christina “Tina” Kiaer; a sister, Theresa McUmber; and a brother, Herman Hilleboe Jr.

A memorial service will be at 4 p.m. Friday in Amigone Funeral Home, 5200 Sheridan Drive, Amherst.

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