Dr. Armstrong, senior research scientist and lecturer in Epidemiology, Yale University School of Medicine, retired in 1997, having served on the Yale faculty since 1968. Her career at the Medical School started in the Microbiology Department and when that department was dissolved in 1974 continued in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health until her retirement.
Born in Paris, Dr. Armstrong was educated in Britain. She obtained her medical degree from the Royal Free Hospital of Medicine, London University. She and her husband, Frank F. Richards (also a physician), came to the States in 1964, she as a research fellow in hematology at Tufts-New England Medical Center, her husband as a research associate in medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1968, they both moved to Yale University School of Medicine where each took up a faculty position.
Much of Dr. Armstrong’s early career focused on the study of retroviruses in mouse models. With the appearance of a novel retrovirus, the AIDS virus, in the early 1980s, her attention turned to the study of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, which, before the advent of retroviral therapy, was a common cause of death in AIDS patients. The focus of Dr. Armstrong’s investigations centered on the in vitro cultivation of Pneumocystis carinii, an opportunistic protozoon pathogen, and the delineation of the pathogen’s interaction with host lung tissue. Her studies led to some forty research papers and reviews.
In the later part of her career, Dr. Armstrong was increasingly involved in administrative duties, the most important of which was as chair of the university-wide Yale Animal Care and Use Committee, from its inception in 1985 until her retirement in 1997. This committee was mandated by the Public Health Service (PHS) to approve and monitor the use and care of animals in research and teaching as required by the revised PHS Policy on the Human Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Dr. Armstrong was a member of the Yale Biological Safety Advisory Committee from 1984 to 1991 and was acting vice-chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health from 1993 to 1995.
In 2015, Dr. Armstrong was inducted into the Winslow Centennial Honor Roll for Excellence and Service which was established for this centennial year to honor 100 alumni and/or faculty of who made outstanding contributions to public health during the Yale School of Public Health’s first 100 years.