Statistics in Medicine Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary

Issue 40:1 marks the beginning of the 40th year of Statistics in Medicine. It is an opportunity to acknowledge the founding editors, Ted Colton, Laurence Freedman and Tony Johnson, and their vision to create a statistics journal that would not only advance knowledge and understanding of quantitative aspects of the biomedical sciences but would also influence practice. As we mark this anniversary, we note that the contributions and relevance of the biostatistical sciences could not be greater. We are currently in the midst of the Covid‐19 pandemic, a time in which biostatistical scientists are playing vital roles, including modeling the course of the pandemic, and contributing to the evaluation of the efficacy of new vaccines and therapeutics on an unprecedented, accelerated time scale. It is a time when the ability to collect real‐time, individual‐level data is contributing to an explosion in the availability of health data and at the same time raising serious concerns about privacy; and it is a time due to advances in computer science and machine learning in which we have the ability to discover meaningful patterns in data on a scale never seen before. The role of the statistician in medicine could not be more relevant or urgent.

Throughout the coming year we will continue to explore with our readers developments in the current practice of the biostatistical sciences. We plan to publish invited papers, featured articles, and tutorials, as well as the usual author‐initiated submissions on clinical trials, observational studies, epidemiology, real world evidence, genetics, and statistical methodology for new and established data types, all of which will undergo the standard review process. In this issue, for example, we look backwards in time to assess how the role of the biostatistician has evolved over the past century. We are pleased to reprint the 1962 Alfred Watson Memorial Lecture delivered by Sir Austin Bradford Hill entitled, The Statistician in Medicine. This lecture preceded Professor Hill’s better known 1965 lecture entitled, The Environment and Disease: Association or Causation? and provides, in our opinion, context and insight into what has become known as Hill’s criteria for showing a causal association presented in the latter paper. We have invited a number of distinguished colleagues to reflect on Hill’s perspective on the role of the statistician in medicine and how it aligns with their own experiences today. We hope you will find the original paper and the invited discussions as insightful and engaging as we have.

The discussions from this issue are:

Farewell, VJohnson, TMedical statistics, Austin Bradford Hill, and a celebration of 40 years of Statistics in MedicineStatistics in Medicine20214017– 28

Hubbard, RACommentary on Professor Austin Bradford Hill’s Alfred Watson Memorial LectureStatistics in Medicine20214029– 31

Lin, XReflections on the 1962 Paper “The Statistician in Medicine” by Sir Austin Bradford HillStatistics in Medicine20214032– 34

Louis, TADiscussion of The Statistician in Medicine, by Professor Sir Austin Bradford HillStatistics in Medicine20214035– 36

Moodie, EEMStephens, DACommentary on “The Statistician in Medicine” by Professor Sir Austin Bradford HillStatistics in Medicine20214037– 41

Dempsey, WMukherjee, BReflecting on “A Statistician in Medicine” in 2020Statistics in Medicine20214042– 48

Phillips, CJA.B. Hill’s 1962 Watson lecture: The statistical consultant as consensus makerStatistics in Medicine20214049– 51

Ryan, LMComments on “The Statistician in Medicine” by Austin Bradford HillStatistics in Medicine20214052– 54

Wittes, JTThoughts on A.B. Hill’s Watson LectureStatistics in Medicine20214055– 57

Zhang, JZhang, BSmall, DSA method to aid statistical judgment on outliers: Comment on Hill’s The Statistician in MedicineStatistics in Medicine2021405863