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Archie Cochrane

The Cochrane Building was named in honour of a pioneer in Welsh, and international, medicine.

Archie Cochrane

Archie Cochrane in the Rhondda Fach valleys

Professor Archie Cochrane was born in Galashiels, Scotland and served with distinction as a medical officer in the Spanish Civil War and in World War II. However, it was when he came to Wales that his name because associated with his groundbreaking approach to the evaluation of health service practice.

In 1948, Professor Cochrane joined the Medical Research Council’s Pneumoconiosis Unit at Llandough Hospital, part of the then Welsh National School of Medicine. Here he began a series of studies of the health of the mining communities of the Rhondda Fach valleys.

With the help of a team of disabled miners, Archie Cochrane received a phenomenal response rate for his research, testing some 25,000 people over the course of a decade. His attention to detail and insistence on follow-up studies helped demonstrate a link between coal dust exposure and disability in the valley communities.

In 1960, Cochrane was appointed Chair of Tuberculosis and Diseases of the Chest at the Welsh National School of Medicine, later to merge with Cardiff University. In 1969, he was appointed a CBE and became Director of the Medical Research Council’s Epidemiology Research Unit in Cardiff.

In 1972, Archie Cochrane published his greatest work Effectiveness and Efficiency:Random Reflections on Health Services. Translated into many languages, it advocated the testing of new treatments through randomised controlled trials, based on the methods he had developed in the Rhondda. Randomised control trials (RCT)  are now the principal means of medical testing throughout the world. Cochrane also argued there should be equal access to effective treatments, and sensitive care where no cure was possible.

Archie Cochrane died in 1988. In naming the Cochrane Building after him, students will always be reminded of the principles of academic excellence and equality in healthcare for which he stood.