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Cardiff University pays tribute to Welsh-based pioneer

19 November 2008

Doctors, historians, senior politicians and former colleagues gather at Cardiff University later this month to remember one of the most significant figures in the history of healthcare.

Professor Archie Cochrane pioneered a modern approach to medicine with his meticulous studies of the valley communities of Rhondda Fach in the 1950s. He tested some 25,000 people and established a link between exposure to coal dust and disability among the mining population. The valleys became the best-mapped area for disease in the UK.

In 1972, he published Effectiveness and Efficiency: Random Reflections on the Health Service. Translated into several languages, the book has established randomised controlled trials as the main means of testing new medical treatments throughout the world. Professor Cochrane, who died in 1988, was recently named the second most influential figure in the history of the NHS, behind Nye Bevan.

Professor Cochrane was Chair of Tuberculosis and Diseases of the Chest at the Welsh National School of Medicine, which later formed the healthcare schools of Cardiff University. Now the University is to honour this monumental figure in Welsh healthcare on November 28 with a day of memories and reflections on his personality and achievements.

Contributors to the event include Professor Peter Elwood of the School of Medicine, who worked alongside Archie Cochrane for many years and another of his colleagues, Sir Iain Chalmers, who helped found the Cochrane Collaboration - an international database of research evidence. Professor Max Blythe, Archie Cochrane’s biographer, will look at aspects of a life which also involved distinguished service in the Spanish Civil War and in World War II . The event will involve contributions from international experts, such as Professor Kay Dickersin of the School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University and Professor Donald Berwick from Harvard School of Public Health.

Senior figures from Government and the NHS are also contributing. From the Welsh Assembly Government, the First Minister and the Health Minister, Rhodri Morgan and Edwina Hart, are both attending, along with the Chief Medical Officer for Wales Dr Tony Jewell. Professor Cochrane’s nephew, Joe Stalker, will also attend.

Cardiff University Dean of Interdisciplinary Studies Professor Peter Halligan, who is organising the event said: "This will be a very personal look at a man who had a enormous impact on Wales and on healthcare worldwide. It should interest anyone wanting to learn more about a fascinating pioneer who helped shape modern evidence based medicine as we know it."

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: "Archie Cochrane was one of the world’s greatest epidemiologists and a major figure in world medicine so I’m pleased to take part in this event to reflect on his work and achievements. The Scottish-born professor’s pioneering work in Wales, especially with miners at risk of pneumoconiosis, enabled him to establish the principle of the randomised trial, which provides the proper foundation for evaluating all modern medical innovations to see if they really do benefit patients."

The Cochrane Reflection Day takes place at the Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales on 28 November. The event is free, and open to all members of the public but entrance is by ticket only, which includes coffee and lunch. For further information and tickets, please contact Sue Dentten, Cardiff University, on 02920 87 5356 or


Further Information:

For further information, please contact:

Professor Peter Halligan,

Cardiff University,

02920 875356

Media wishing to attend the event or to obtain archive images and footage of Archie Cochrane should contact:

Stephen Rouse,

Public Relations Office,

Cardiff University

029 2087 5596

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. 2008 marks the 125th anniversary of Cardiff University having been founded by Royal Charter in 1883. Today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research universities. Visit the University website at:



CORP 11 Cochrane