Epidemiological Heroes And Landmark Studies
Epidemiological Heroes And Landmark Studies
Robert Friis (Chair, Health Sciences Department, California State University, Long Beach ) gives expert video advice on: How did John Snow impact epidemiology?; How did John Graunt change epidemiology? and more...
What are the origins of epidemiology?
Well, the history of epidemiology is fairly venerable. For example, consider the writings of Hippocrates, and Hippocrates is interesting because he is one of the, among the first to try to show an association between an environmental factor and disease. For example, he pointed out that when people lived in certain areas near contaminated water or near low-lying areas, they're more likely to come down with health problems. The term "malaria" kind of harkens of the idea of "mal area", bad air. Later on in the history of epidemiology, there was important work done to look at vital statistics records. The investigator or the important historical figure John Graunt is called the Columbus of biostatistics and his important contributions were that he observed features of mortality that we observe today and also of births, for example, that more births are among males than among females. Later on then we have the work of John Snow who conducted his famous natural experiment on the association between water quality in London and Soho and the development of cholera. And then moving on from that, perhaps one of the more recent historical breakthroughs was the work of Koch and Koch's postulates, whose work led to the identification of the micro bacterium tuberculosis and to the demonstration that a specific microbiologic agent was associated with the aetiology of tuberculosis. And then more recently, in the more recent history of epidemiology, we have of course the work that was done on showing an association between smoking and lung cancer. And then in addition, the famous Framingham study that developed some of the basic information that we have about coronary risk factors and coronary heart disease.
Who is John Snow?
John Snow is very significant to the history of epidemiology because of his work on the investigation of a cholera outbreak that occurred in Soho in London during the mid 1800's. Snow was an anaesthesiologist who took an interest in epidemiology and used what is known as the 'natural experiment methodology'. He was able to show that there was an association between the impure water and cholera. This finding, although it doesn't surprise us at present, was remarkable for his time.
How did John Snow impact epidemiology?
John Snow impacted epidemiology by devising the method that is known as a natural experiment. This method is used today in current epidemiologic research. For example, John Snow used a spot map to show the occurrence of disease and that technique is used in contemporary epidemiology. And he had many other innovations that he developed in his study of the London and Soho outbreak that are used today.
Who was John Graunt?
John Graunt is important to epidemiology because he is known as the father, the Columbus, of biostatistics. What he did was to examine vital statistics, date, births and deaths in London. And he was able to show certain regularities in the data, for example the excess of male births over female births that can be observed today in modern vital statistics records. He was among the first to do this and to make this particular contribution.
How did John Graunt change epidemiology?
John Grant impacted epidemiology by developing methods that are used in biostatistics today. He pioneered some of the methods for looking at the occurrence of disease in populations by examining vital statistics records. Many of the same methodologies that he devised during his time are relevant and in use today.
What is the 'British Doctors Study'?
The 'British Doctors Study' was a milestone in epidemiology, because it identified the association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. It is always surprising when we hear about doctors who smoke, because they are supposed to safeguard our health. What the investigators did, was to try to examine the occurrence of mortality from one cancer among physicians, and try to show linked association between the number of cigarettes smoked and mortality rates. In fact they were able to do this in the 'British Doctors Study'.
What is the 'Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program' or 'SEER Program'?
The SEER Program refers to a program of cancer registries within United States. SEER Program collects information for cancer registries which are databases for collecting information about the occurrence of cancer in local regions. The SEER Program then aggregates this information and develops reports on the overall incidence of various forms of cancer in United States.
What is the 'Health and Nutrition Examination Survey' or 'HANES'?
The "HANES" survey which stands for the Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, is a national survey mandated by the federal government to study the health characteristics of the population of the United States.
What is the 'Framingham Heart Study'?
The Framingham Heart Study is a community – total community – study, and it was begun in 1948. The purpose of the study was to examine the occurrence of diseases in a population, focusing on risk factors for coronary heart disease. The Framingham Heart Study produced many of the basic findings that are important today with respect to risks of coronary heart disease.