“If It Isn't Ultimately Aimed at Policy, It's Not Worth Doing”: Interview of George W. Comstock by Alfredo Morabia

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Abstract

George W. Comstock (1915–2007), MD, MPH, DrPH, was lecturer and then professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health from 1956 to 2007 and served as editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Epidemiology from 1979 to 1988. This interview of George W. Comstock took place in Hagerstown, Maryland, in the spring of 1990. The selection of questions and answers published here represent approximately 10% of the whole interview, which had been reviewed and hand-corrected by Dr. Comstock. He first describes how epidemiology was taught at Hopkins in the 1950s and 1960s. He then distinguishes “epidemiology per se” from a “practical epidemiology” that works closely with local health departments, and he finally expresses his wish that in the future, epidemiology would become more widely involved in policy and accepted by policy makers.

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