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Warren Winkelstein, Jr, 1922–2012

Wilcox, Allen J.

doi: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e31826d72bf

Warren Winkelstein, Jr, was born in upstate New York, and added his luster to a long line of notable epidemiologists who launched their careers from the Erie County Health Department in Buffalo. His research accomplishments over the past 6 decades trace the arc of epidemiology, starting with infectious diseases (he conducted one of the largest trials of the Salk polio vaccine), to cardiovascular disease (the first case-control study of heart disease in women), cancer (linking tobacco smoke and cervical cancer), and environmental contaminants (his air-pollution studies influenced the development of US air-quality standards)—returning finally to infectious diseases with his landmark study of AIDS. This study was launched in the early 1980s, shortly after he had stepped down as Dean of the School of Public Health at UC-Berkeley. The study was the first to show how AIDS was transmitted, and provided Warren with the distinction of doing some of his best research after having been a dean. In 2003, Pat Buffler interviewed Warren for the journal’s VOICES series.1



In his retirement, Warren’s passion turned to the history of science, and in particular the unsung women among the pioneers of epidemiology. His history lectures were a regular feature of the annual meetings of the American Epidemiological Society. Over the last few years, Warren wrote a series of historical vignettes for our journal. Typically, Warren would send an e-mail asking what I might think about some short piece on the Johnstown Flood, or Janet Lane-Claypon. My job was easy—I just said "Sure." There would follow a pithy historical profile or anecdote with an epidemiologic hook. Warren published 17 of these vignettes over the years, the more recent ones in collaboration with his colleague Eduardo Faerstein. Like so many of the leading epidemiologists of his generation, Warren maintained his zest for epidemiology to the very end. You can find his last vignette–about Adolphe Quetelet–on page 762 of our September issue.2

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1. Buffler PA Jr.. A Conversation with Warren Winkelstein. Epidemiol.. 2006;15:368–372 A podcast and brief video clip of this interview are available on the journal’s website,
2. Faerstein E, Winkelstein W Jr. Adolphe quetelet: statistician and more. Epidemiology. 2012;23:762–763
© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.