University of Minnesota

Tavia Gordon, PhD

1917 — 2004

Tavia Gordon was trained in anthropology and mathematical statistics at the University of California and from 1954 to 1977 worked in the Biometrics Section of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. There he was centrally involved with the first Health Examination Survey and initiated its analytical publication series. He led in Framingham Study analyses where he was instrumental in initiating the Framingham monograph series and other analytical reports. He served the pioneering Cooperative Lipoprotein Study assessing the role of Gofman lipoprotein patterns, as well as the Honolulu Heart Study and most of the epidemiological studies and trials coordinated by the institute. He made major contributions to the understanding of the predictive value of the blood lipoproteins and their ratios, and editorialized effectively on the role of diet in coronary disease.

His NIH colleague Dan McGee described Gordon as follows: “His role in methodological advancement in the fields of statistics and epidemiology and his role in advancing the careers of others was substantial. His 1971 paper on hazards in the use of the logistic function is still required reading in many courses that include mathematical modeling and was included in a collection of ‘classics’ of the epidemiological literature.”

Dr. Paul Sorlie, supervisory statistician at NHLBI, commented in Gordon’s obituary: “For many of us who arrived at NIH young and bewildered in the 1960s and 1970s, he provided the best example of a clear and critical thinker.”

Gordon represented a caliber of Institute staff and a devotion to the quality of the science supported by NIH that could be a model to those in government service. (HB)


Statistician Gordon mourned. October 12, 2004. The NIH Record, [online]. vol. 56, no. 21 Available from: [cited 2 January 2007].