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John Brownlee and the Measurement of Infectiousness: An Historical Study in Epidemic Theory

Paul E. M. Fine
Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A (General)
Vol. 142, No. 3 (1979), pp. 347-362
Published by: Wiley for the Royal Statistical Society
DOI: 10.2307/2982487
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2982487
Page Count: 16
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John Brownlee and the Measurement of Infectiousness: An Historical Study in Epidemic Theory
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Abstract

Dr John Brownlee was the first Director of the Statistical Department of the Medical Research Council, from 1914 until 1927. Much of his published work related to a theory of epidemic processes, which he had derived through algebraic manipulation of earlier work by William Farr. Brownlee's advocacy of this theory, which attributed the rise and decline of epidemics to changes in the "infectiousness" of pathogenic agents, had a major impact on epidemiological and microbiological research for many years. A review of this important period in the development of mathematical epidemiology illustrates some of the logical pitfalls and institutional implications of such work.

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