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[Perspectives] The social history of ISIS-2: the early history

For almost half a century epidemiological science has occupied a leading position in the development of preventive medicine. This status is all the more remarkable since it was not until the 1940s that the modern field of epidemiology was recognised as a medical discipline. The most important breakthrough in the history of cancer epidemiology was the carcinogenic effect of tobacco, a discovery to which Austin Bradford Hill and Richard Doll made a major contribution in 1950. Collectively, Bradford Hill and Doll laid the foundations for the rapid development of epidemiology by showing how the old science that had focused on infectious diseases could be reconfigured for non-communicable diseases.