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President's Page—In Memoriam: Alfred S. Evans

Blattner, William A. M.D.

Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes and Human Retrovirology: April 1st, 1996 - Volume 11 - Issue 4 - p 410
International Retrovirology Association

Dr. Alfred S. Evans, a pioneer in the field of viral epidemiology, died on January 21, 1996. From his early work, which established the Epstein-Barr virus as the cause of infectious mononucleosis, to his seminal research implicating this same virus in Hodgkin's disease, Al Evans brought a clarity of thought to each issue he addressed. He influenced generations of viral epidemiologists by his illustrious teaching career and framed the approach for retroviral epidemiology.

Being a physician-researcher came naturally to Al Evans. His father, Dr. John H. Evans was one of the United States' first anesthesiologists and an early researcher in the field of oxygen therapy. Al did his undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and received his medical degree in 1939 from the University of Buffalo. In 1944, after an internship in Pittsburgh and a residency in internal medicine at Goldwater Hospital in New York City, he was called to active duty and assigned as a public health officer in Japan. While working in Japan, he was introduced to the research being done by Dr. John Rodman Paul, a world renowned epidemiologist and decided to pursue that line of research. He received a fellowship to study with Dr. Paul at Yale and there, with his studies of infectious mononucleosis, began what was to become a remarkable career in infectious disease. During the Korean conflict, he was recalled to active duty as Chief of the Hepatitis Research Laboratory of the 98th General Hospital in Munich. In 1952, he joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine as Professor and Chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Director of the State Laboratory of Hygiene. During his tenure at Wisconsin, he earned a Masters degree in Public Health and established his reputation as an authority in the area of infectious disease transmission. In 1966, he returned to Yale as Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the World Health Organization Serum Reference Bank. In 1982, he was appointed the John Rodman Paul Professor of Epidemiology in Yale University's School of Medicine; at the time of his death, he was John Rodman Paul Professor Emeritus.

His research, publications, teaching, and administrative/organizational positions all advanced scientific knowledge of the transmission of disease by viruses—from the common cold to cancer. He authored over 230 publications, served as Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine and wrote five textbooks including Viral Infections of Humans, Bacterial Infections of Humans, Methods in Observational Epidemiology, Causation and Disease: A Chronological Journey, and Symposium on Latency and Masking in Viral and Rickettsial Infections. He established the infection quarantine program for the Apollo 13 space mission, was a consultant for the United States Navy nuclear submarine programs, and served as a consultant to Surgeon General of the United States for 13 years. He was the founder and past president of the Society of Medical Consultants to the Armed Forces, president of the American College of Epidemiology and of the American Epidemiological Society. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and received many other awards and recognitions for his contributions to epidemiology, including the prestigious John R. Seal Award and the Abraham S. Lilienfield Award.

His capacity to bring forth clarity in proof of causation and the scintillating, wide-ranging discussions he had with many of us are special memories. For all of his brilliance, his endearing wit and humor are remembered by all of us who were his students, whether formally or informally.

Dr. Evans was an extraordinary man of science and humanity. To celebrate his life and his work, a Memorial Fund has been established in his name which will provide funding for research in epidemiology. Contributions can be sent to: Alfred S. Evans, M.D. Memorial Fund, 101 Sage Hollow, Guilford, Connecticut 06437, USA.

William A. Blattner, M.D.


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