Spring 2022 As Seen in Our Spring 2022 Issue

Diane Demarest Becker, ’64, was a champion of community care

Diane Becker, ScD, MPH, RN, an expert in the prevention and management of coronary disease, a champion of community care, and a devoted alumnus, died at her at home in Baltimore on November 17 with family at her side. She was 78.

“Diane was an extraordinary person who made impressive and lasting contributions to cardiovascular disease prevention research and public health throughout her career,” said Dean Emerita Martha Hill, ’64. “She showed amazing strength and determination throughout her life coping with severe progressive illnesses including lupus and breast cancer. Her participation, especially her impressive IT capabilities, in planning the 50th reunion, was central in revitalizing lasting friendships.” They also allowed her to attend (by Zoom) the opening of the Class of 1964 Terrace, for which she helped raise more than $500,000. “Shortly after she entered hospice care she wrote, ‘Was really a happy moment for me. And I talked too much as usual. I have so enjoyed getting to know you all in recent years and especially at this particular time when life has an incredible amount of meaning.’”

“Diane was very accomplished professionally, but most of all I cherish my memories of her as my friend,” added Eileen Leinweber, ’64. “She was a strong, smart woman ahead of her time.”

Dr. Becker (front row, third from left in photo) in 1987 was the first nurse to receive a primary academic appointment in the School of Medicine with a joint appointment in the School of Public Health. Her landmark NIH-funded study known as GeneSTAR continues to produce new knowledge regarding biological, genetic, behavioral, and sociocultural risk factors of coronary disease as well as effective interventions.

She leaves a great legacy as a role model to all the alumni and students she touched throughout the years.”

Dr. Becker partnered with pastors from 250 East Baltimore churches to form the award-winning Heart, Body, and Soul Inc., an independent nonprofit organization designed to create real-world health care delivery alternatives in inner-city African American communities. At the Johns Hopkins Brancati Center for the Advancement of Community Care, she was the founding director of research, focusing on community diabetes care and prevention in East Baltimore. Her work to reduce health disparities earned awards from the American Heart Association, American Association of Medical Colleges, and President George W. Bush. In 1995, she was awarded a prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Institute of Medicine Federal Health Policy Fellowship. She retired in 2018. 

“She leaves a great legacy as a role model to all the alumni and students she touched throughout the years,” said Dean Sarah Szanton, PhD, RN, FAAN.

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