Population-based Research in South Wales: The MRC Pneumoconiosis Research Unit and the MRC Epidemiology Unit
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Population-based research in south Wales was initially to investigate occupational lung disease in miners. Archie Cochrane, the renowned epidemiologist, and his clinical and environmental studies group at the Pneumoconiosis Research Unit at Llandough Hospital, Cardiff, conducted respiratory and blood pressure surveys of workers in the Welsh valleys. In 1960 the epidemiological studies were separated from pneumoconiosis research and detailed studies began in the new Epidemiological Research Unit (South Wales) in Cardiff on glaucoma, dust diseases in flax, asbestos, steel and slate workers, with later work on iron deficiency anaemia, environmental lead, migraine, asthma, and two high-profile trials showing improved survival following a heart attack with regular use of aspirin and with consumption of a diet rich in oily fish. Statisticians and field workers made important contributions to both randomized controlled trials and observational studies at the unit over five decades. Selections from archived interviews with former members of both units appear as well as a section on the impact on data analysis from steadily increasing computational capacity. Contributors include: the late Dr David Bainton, Sir Christopher Booth, Dr Michael Burr, the late Dr Jeffrey Chapman, Professor Sir Richard Doll (Chair), Dr Peter Elwood, the late Dr Joan Faulkner, Dr Philip D’Arcy Hart, Dr Julian Tudor Hart, Mr Nick Henderson, the late Dr Sheila Howarth, Mrs Janie Hughes, Dr Philip Hugh-Jones, Mrs Marion Jones, Professor Stewart Kilpatrick, the late Dr Bill Miall, Dr Shaun Murphy, Dr Andy Ness, Professor John Pemberton, Professor George Davey Smith, Dr Selwyn St Leger, Dr Stephen Stansfeld, Professor David Strachan, Mr Peter Sweetnam, Dr Hugh Thomas, Mrs Mary Thomas, Dr David Tyrrell, Professor Owen Wade, Professor Estlin Waters, Dr Jean Weddell, Mrs Sheila Wright and Dr John Yarnell. Ness A R, Reynolds L A, Tansey E M. (eds) (2002) Population-based Research in South Wales: The MRC Pneumoconiosis Research Unit and the MRC Epidemiology Unit, Wellcome Witnesses to Twentieth Century Medicine, vol. 13. London: The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL.