Remembering Dr. Sheldon J. Segal

Distinguished Scientist, Founding Board Member, and Friend


Primary Content

Center for Reproductive Rights founding Board member Shelly J. Segal passed away at his summer home in Woods Hole, Massachusetts on Saturday, October 17.

Dr. Segal was a distinguished scientist in the fields of global population sciences, contraceptive development and family planning, and served on the Center's Board. For the past 17 years, Dr. Segal brought his wisdom, warmth, collegiality, incisive scientific mind, and extraordinary commitment to the work of our Board. His professional achievements contributed to the health of millions of women around the world. 

Dr. Segal received his B.A. from Dartmouth and his Ph.D. in embryology and biochemistry from the University of Iowa. As a leading authority on global population issues, family planning and contraceptive technologies in a career that spanned more than fifty years, he made extraordinary achievements outside of the Center, contributing to the health of millions of women around the world. He directed research that led to the development of groundbreaking contraceptives, including the copper-bearing IUDs and implant contraceptives. That research also resulted in initial studies on contraceptive vaginal rings, contraceptive vaccines, and male contraceptives.

Dr. Segal's accomplishments have been recognized by the most distinguished organizations and even heads of state. In 1984, he received the United Nations Population Award. He was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences\' Institute of Medicine. In 2005, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Academy of Human Reproduction, and in 2007, he was awarded the Joseph Bolivar DeLee Humanitarian Award from the University of Chicago for his contribution to the health of women and infants. He was a Distinguished Scientist at the Population Council and chairman of the Council's Institutional Review Board. He was also the former director for Population Sciences at the Rockefeller Foundation.

He was the author of more than 300 publications in the field of embryology, endocrinology, the biology of reproduction, contraceptive development, and family planning and had served on the editorial boards of six scientific journals. Shelly also served as an advisor to the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Fund, the World Bank, the European Parliament, and the United States Congress.

We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Harriet and the Segal family. We will all miss Dr. Segal's sparkling brilliance, his friendship and excellent sense of humor and his peerless commitment to improving the lives and freedom of women through his focus on women's reproductive health.

The Center is grateful that Dr. Segal spent time with us and devoted his considerable talents to the organization's governance and mission. He will be deeply missed.

Read what Center President Nancy Northup had to say about Dr. Segal's passing >,