Ruth Shoer Rappaport, the first woman hired as a scientist by Wyeth Laboratories and whose research contributed to the development of vaccines for a host of illnesses, died on April 28, 2020, in Philadelphia. She was 83.
The eldest daughter of Jennie (Pearl) Shoer (1910-2000) and Irving Shoer (1912-1970) of Peabody, she attended Peabody High School and graduated, alongside her twin Patricia Shoer Goldman-Rakic, from Vassar College in 1959. She went on to study at Yale University, where she received her Ph.D. in 1967.
In a world dominated by men, Ruth rose to become Senior Director of Clinical Immunology and Virology for Wyeth. Her research contributed to the development of vaccines that treat diseases such as influenza, human rotavirus, adenovirus and HIV, and protect against E. coli and cholera. She held patents for certain growth hormones and cancer-binding molecules, and authored nearly 60 scientific papers.
Outside of the laboratory, Ruth composed music and several works of poetry. She was a passionate student of ballet, and performed a dance created for her by the choreographer Edmund Jakub Novak. She played piano, and regularly attended opera and performances of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Over her lifetime, she assembled an art collection that includes notable paintings, American pottery, furniture, and folk art.
In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her two sisters, Dr. Goldman-Rakic, a highly regarded neuroscientist who died in 2003, and Dr. Linda Shoer (1942-1999), founder and president of List Laboratories, a biotechnology firm in Campbell, Calif.
Burial will take place on Sunday, May 3, 2020, at Maple Hill Cemetery in Peabody. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Peabody Veterans Memorial High School or the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra.