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January 22, 2009

Obituary: Jeanne Elaine Zborowski

Jeanne Elaine Zborowski, senior research specialist in the Department of Epidemiology at the Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH), died Jan. 16, 2008, following nearly two years of treatment for cancer. She was 57.

A native of Monessen, Zborowski earned three degrees at Pitt, a BS in medical technology (1973), an MS in hematology (1984) and a PhD in epidemiology (2000), as well as a certificate in business management (1989).

She started at the University in 1987 as a clinical assistant professor and teaching fellow in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. In 1996 she was named a graduate researcher in the GSPH Department of Epidemiology, and in 2000 was appointed a senior research specialist.

Her early career included clinical laboratory work and teaching at Washington Hospital in Washington, Pa.

Colleague and friend Evelyn O. Talbott, professor of epidemiology at GSPH, said Zborowski was a warm and caring person who was relied on by faculty and students alike. “Jeanne had a unique ability to bring people together. She was selfless, that was perhaps her greatest strength. If you had a flat tire, she’d be the first person you’d think of to call. She never said no, she was just that type of person,” Talbott said. “She also was a great listener, both as a scientist and friend. She was an excellent scientist, a great writer and editor. Graduate students would come to her all the time for writing advice. And, as I’ve heard several times from lawyers, she made the best expert witness because she knew how to cut right to the chase.”

Zborowski was a member of a number of professional societies, including the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, the American Diabetes Association, the Endocrine Society and the American Heart Association.

She also held membership in Delta Omega, Omicron Chapter (the national honor society for public health) and Alpha Mu Tau (the national honor society for medical technology).

In 1985 she was honored with the Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Laboratory Science Edward P. Dolbey Award as Medical Technologist of the Year.

While at Pitt, Zborowski directed and participated in several research studies and authored or co-authored numerous technical papers in the field of public health.

She was principal investigator on “Breast Artery Calcification and Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome,” a project in which digital mammography was used to test the feasibility of determining if calcification of the breast artery visible on digital mammograms might be employed as a sentinel for coronary calcium and coronary heart disease risk within a population of high-risk women.

She was project director for the Allegheny County Air Pollution Study, a retrospective investigation of cardio-respiratory outcomes and exposure to air pollutants.

Zborowski also was principal investigator for a study in Hazelton, Pa., titled “Cancer Risk in a Community Exposed to Benzene From a Gasoline Spill,” one of the first investigations to consider the relationship between benzene exposure from leaking underground storage tanks and cancer risk in a community setting.

Zborowski had extensive experience in the evaluation of hospital-based information as a certified clinical laboratory scientist and clinical laboratory director. She worked on numerous investigations involving large data sets including the Three Mile Island Cancer Registry and the Hawaii Heptachlor Cancer Registry.

Zborowski is survived by her husband, Ronald W. “Sam” Zborowski; a son, Gregory J. Zborowski, and numerous cousins, nephews and nieces.

The family suggests memorial contributions be made to Ave Maria Parish, 126 Church St., Bentleyville, PA 15314, or the American Cancer Society/PA Division, 320 Bilmar Drive, Pittsburgh 15205.

—Peter Hart

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