Biographical Outline


1909 Born on 12 January at Galashiels, Scotland, first son of Walter Francis and Emma Mabel (née Purdom) Cochrane.

1916-22 At preparatory school at Rhos-on-Sea.  Scholarship to Uppingham, 1922.  (Father killed at Battle of Gaza, 19 April 1917).

1922-27 Scholar, Uppingham School, Rutland.  School Prefect and member of rugby football 1st XV.  Scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge, 1927.

1927-30 Scholar, King’s College Cambridge.  1st class honours in Parts I and II of the Natural Sciences Tripos.  Also completed 2nd MB studies.

1931 Research student, Strangeways Laboratory, Cambridge.  Tissue culture stud- ies under supervision of Dr N Willmer.

1931-34 Psychoanalysis with Theodor Reik in Berlin, Vienna, and the Hague.  Some medical studies in Vienna and Leiden.   (Published a first paper, “Elie Metschnikoff and his theory of an ‘instinct de la mort’.”

1934-36 Medical student, University College Hospital, London.   Formally commenced clinical studies.

1936-37 Service in Spain with the Spanish Medical Aid Committee’s Field Ambulance Unit.  Served with the Spanish Medical Aid Field Ambulance unit on the Aragon front and at the siege of Madrid, serving at the battles of Jarama and Brunete.   Returned to England in August 1937 to resume medical studies.

1937-38 Medical student, University College Hospital.  Qualified MB, BCh(Cantab), 1938.

1938-39 House physician, West London Hospital, with Dr Konstam.

1939 Research assistant, Medical Unit, University College Hospital.

1939-46 Captain, Royal Army Medical Corps.   Served in Egypt as hospital medical of ficer, then posted to serve as medical officer to D Battalion, Layforce.   Taken prisoner of war on 1 June 1941.  Prisoner of war camp medical officer at Salonica, Hildburghausen, Elsterhorst, and Wittenberg-am-Elbe.   (MBE (military), 1946, for services as prisoner of war camp medical officer.)

1946-47 Student, Diploma in Public Health Course, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  DPH, 1947.

1947-48 Member of scientific staff, Medical Research Council Pneumoconiosis Research Unit, Cardiff, South Wales.  Main interests:  the x ray classification of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis;  the relationship  between dust exposure, x- ray category of pneumoconiosis, and disability;  the aetiology of progressive massive fibrosis.   Responsible for the Rhondda Fach (“two valleys”) scheme launched in 1950 to investigate the aetiology of progressive massive fibrosis.

1960-69 David Davies professor, Welsh National School of Medicine, Cardiff, and honorary director, Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, Cardiff.   Main research interests:  the application and promotion of randomised controlled trials, the validation of screening strategies, and health services research.   (MRCP, 1961;  FRCP, 1965;  CBE, 1968).

1969-74 Director, Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, Cardiff.  Main research interest:  randomised controlled trials and health services research (Effectiveness and Efficiency, published 1972).   (First president of the Faculty of Community Medicine, UK, 1972.   Honorary Doctor of the University of York,

1973   Dunham lecturer, Harvard, USA, 1974).

1974-86 Continuing attachment to Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, Cardiff.  Main research interests:  20- and 30-year follow-up studies of the population of the Rhondda Fach.   (Honorary fellow, American Epidemiologi cal Association, 1975.  Honorary DSc, Rochester, USA, 1977.   Honorary fellow, International Epidemiological Association, 1977).


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