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‘One Man’s Medicine’ Centenary book and exhibition marks medical legacy

24 April 2009

One hundred years after his birth the remarkable life and legacy of Archie Cochrane (1909 - 1988), considered by many to be the father of evidence-based medicine, is to be marked by Cardiff University.

A public exhibition, including rarely seen video footage and items from Cochrane’s personal archive, is to be held at the Welsh Assembly Government's Senedd Building, (Tuesday April 28 until 12.30pm, Friday May 1). The Cardiff University Centenary Edition of One Man’s Medicine, an autobiography of Archie Cochrane co-authored with Professor Max Blythe will also be launched (April 27). The first copy of the new edition will be presented by the University to the Welsh Assembly Government First Minister, Rhodri Morgan.

One Man’s Medicine records the remarkable twists and turns of Cochrane’s career leading to an unexpected, revolutionary influence on modern medicine. Early family losses were the basis of his passion for care. This was followed by traumatic service with a field ambulance unit in the Spanish Civil War, then four years as a Medical Officer struggling with problems of disease and illness in Prisoner Of War camps in Greece and Germany during World War II.

Cochrane’s remarkable story then moves to Wales and his post-war investigations of the scourge of pneumoconiosis among Welsh mining populations. As Director of the Medical Research Council's Epidemiology Research Unit and Professor of Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases in the Welsh National School of Medicine (now part of Cardiff University) Cochrane carried out groundbreaking research in the South Wales Valleys. His series of studies on the health of the mining communities of the Rhondda Fach set new standards for population-based epidemiological studies. No communities were more fastidiously investigated with unprecedented participation rates.

Cochrane’s reference populations became the inspiration of thousands of health professionals and care planners, and he became increasingly influential in British healthcare and in challenging traditional medical attitudes. His classic text Effectiveness and Efficiency: random reflections on health services (1972) championed a new era of health care logic.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: "Archie Cochrane is best known for the way he defined and crystallised randomised controlled trials. That is the fundamental principle behind evidence-based medicine. But Archie Cochrane's contribution is wider than that - it includes citizen-based medicine, engaging with the patients and equalities in medicine. Cardiff University's Centenary Edition of One Man's Medicine demonstrates that Archie had about ten ordinary lives rolled into one."

Sir Iain Chalmers, who founded the first Cochrane Centre, and subsequently with others, the worldwide Cochrane Collaboration, says: "Most people first came to know Archie Cochrane through reading his influential little book Effectiveness and Efficiency: random reflections on health services. I was one of the fortunate people who also came to know him personally. The characteristic I most appreciated about Archie was his constant encouragement to challenge the medical establishment, of which he himself was such a distinguished member. One Man’s Medicine helps us to understand how this remarkable man came to hold the influential views for which he became so celebrated and I welcome its publication by Cardiff University."

Notes to editors:

1. For more information visit the Cardiff University Cochrane Archive website at:

2. Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, Professor Sir Martin Evans. 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.

Visit the University website at:

For more information:

Lowri Jones / Emma Darling
Communications and International Relations Division

T: 02920 874499