Richard Doll was a prominent British epidemiologist and physician known for his groundbreaking work on the link between smoking and cancer. He is widely recognized as one of the most influential medical researchers of the 20th century, whose work has had a profound impact on public health policy around the world.
Three of his greatest contributions to science are:
Doll published a landmark study that demonstrated a clear link between smoking and lung cancer. His research helped to overturn the prevailing view that lung cancer was caused by air pollution, and it paved the way for widespread public health campaigns to reduce smoking rates.
Doll led a cohort study, which sent out over 34,000 questionnaires to male British physicians, to record details of their smoking habits. The study showed a higher mortality in smokers, compared to non-smokers, and concluded that lung cancer could not be attributed to pollution exposure.
Doll conducted research on the health impacts of asbestos exposure, which helped to demonstrate the link between asbestos and mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer.
His work on this topic helped to spur greater regulation of the asbestos industry.
Doll was a strong advocate for evidence-based medicine, arguing that medical decisions should be based on rigorous scientific research rather than anecdotal evidence or personal beliefs.
His advocacy helped to establish epidemiology as a key discipline in medical research and helped to promote greater scientific rigor in medical practice.