Alice Stewart and Sir Richard Doll

7th Sep 2009

15:30 - 17:00

Seminar Rm 1.06, Old Surgeons' Hall, High School Yards

Alice Stewart and Richard Doll made major contributions in the fifties that shaped epidemiology  ‹ she, by discovering that a fetal x-ray doubled the chance of a childhood cancer,  and he, by discovering the link between smoking and lung cancer.  But after Stewart went public with the dangers of low-dose radiation, she plummeted to obscurity, while Doll¹s work catapulted
him to fame and a knighthood.   Though she and Doll had moved in the same
Oxbridge circles, she never again received MRC funding.  Her story might read like a cautionary tale to any scientist who¹s considering taking up arms against received opinion, but the obstacles she encountered had a much
to do with Doll¹s animosity.   Revelations that came out about Doll a year
after his death‹³World-famous British scientist failed to disclose that he held a paid consultancy with a chemical company for more than twenty years while investigating cancer risks in the industry²  (Guardian, 12/06)‹ made me want to go back and re-examine the complex relationship between these pioneer physician- epidemiologists who started out so similarly yet veered so far apart, she becoming guru to the anti-nuclear movement, he ever more entrenched with industry.