University of Minnesota

“If It Isn’t Fun.” – Conception of the 10-Day International Seminars in CVD Epidemiology

For the Venice meeting of the Research Committee I composed a memo that outlined  a rationale, program, and possible participants for an international seminar on CVD epidemiological methods. I enclose it here for its archival interest, recognizing that the origins of the training program were formed by Keys and White and probably Stamler at the 1962 World Congress of Cardiology in Mexico City:

April 6, 1965


To: Dr. Keys

From: Henry Blackburn

Subject: Field Training Programs

There is a great need for field training in cardiovascular disease epidemiology. The London School of Hygiene is the notable exception to a general lack of training facility in the mechanics of field surveys. And its short course has been discontinued.

It is a common experience that advanced planning rarely accounts for all the many problems encountered in the field. Due to the tremendous effort, expense, and inconvenience of a survey, it hardly seems justified on any grounds to impose an inexperienced team on the experimental population, and it is too much to expect valid and consistent results from a team that is actually developing its techniques during the period of data collection.

Provision should be made for an international school of field methods. The need is clear, the students available, and a faculty experienced. The active interest of the Research Committee of the ISFC and its international character should further act to stimulate this proposal.

Details could be worked out in the Venice meeting but the general plan is to set up a field situation in one of the areas currently under study in Seven Countries, to simulate an actual study, adding on lectures and seminars. Preliminary ideas for the first program and faculty are listed below:

Principal: Ancel Keys

Seminar Director: Donald Reid

Instructor-in-charge: Geoffrey Rose

Questionnaires: G. Rose/F. Epstein

Clinical methods: A. Kagan/G. Tibblin/M.Toor

Blood Pressure: W. Holland

Electrocardiology: H. Blackburn/I. Mohacek

Physical Activity: M. Karvonen/J.Stamler/H.Taylor

Diet: A. Keys/P. Roine

Lab. Methods: J.Anderson/T.Strasser

?Respiratory Function: I. Higgins

?Peripheral Vascular: R. Herron

?Electronics Instrumentation: P. Rautaharju

Field Manager: P-I of the chosen field area.

A minimum working group to handle all these subjects might be Keys, Rose, Holland, and Blackburn plus the local field manager.

Something like this summary proposal, but reducing the hands-on experience and adding epidemiological concepts and analyses, with Rose, Remington, and Stamler as the core faculty, and much of the proposed other faculty included, finally got under way as the First Ten-Day Seminar in CVD Epidemiology, in Makarska, Yugoslavia at the meeting of the ISFC Research Committee held there in fall of 1968. A remarkable tradition was begun, which continues today.

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