Pictured: Brigham Legacy Society member Gail Sipe and her family
As a nurse practitioner for the San Diego school system for 33 years, Gail Sipe dedicated her career to caring for students in varied settings and capacities. In all, she held 13 positions that spanned every grade level and multiple programs until retiring 10 years ago at the age of 72.
In the many roles she held—from launching new projects and programs to writing and securing grants—Gail was enthusiastic about embracing possibility and effecting change in healthcare. This eagerness to chart new territory was evident throughout her long career, including when she served as the nurse practitioner for San Diego’s first charter school that largely accommodated underserved students with educational, mental, and physical health challenges.
So it’s no surprise that, when Gail was invited to participate in the first cohort of the Nurses’ Health Study in 1976, she readily agreed, eager to join the pioneering effort led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
For 45 years, Gail has faithfully completed the biennial survey, answering questions about her health and lifestyle. “With such a paucity of research out there for women’s health issues, this study is so important,” says Gail. “I’ve been extremely honored to be a part of it.”
Inspired by the investigation’s groundbreaking implications and grateful for the opportunity to participate, Gail named the study in her estate plans. Working with her attorney, she named the study as a beneficiary of her trust. In honor of her generosity, the hospital welcomed her into The Brigham Legacy Society, which celebrates those dedicated to shaping the future of medicine by making a planned gift to the Brigham.
Gifts like Gail’s are instrumental in sustaining and growing the Nurses’ Health Study, particularly as support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—its major funding source—has been declining.
“My hope is that the study will keep going for a long time and will impact areas of women’s health that haven’t been addressed before,” she says. “If you have daughters and granddaughters as I do, and you want to hand down a legacy to future generations and this is the way to do it.”