Science and medicine lost a pioneer last week with the death of Dr. David L. Sackett, whose contributions have transformed clinical research as well as the practice of medicine. Considered by some to be the father of evidence-based medicine, Dr. Sackett is internationally known for his efforts to enhance the rigor and power of the research methods used in clinical research and to educate clinicians to understand and apply evidence into clinical practice. Trained in internal medicine, nephrology, and epidemiology, Dr. Sackett founded the department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University in Ontario in 1967, the first such department in the world. He went on to become the Founding Chair of the Cochrane Collaboration Steering Group in 1993 and founded the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine in 1994.
Dr. Sackett championed efforts to evaluate the effects of clinical interventions on patient outcomes well before the phrase value-based purchasing became a buzz word. He encouraged collaboration when it came to healthcare delivery and advocated—and designed—rigorous and unbiased research methods that delivered results clinicians could use to diagnose, prevent, and treat disease.
Dr. Sackett received numerous awards throughout his career. In 2000, he was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and in 2009 received the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award in recognition of his contributions to clinical epidemiology and evidence-based medicine.
CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association, has compiled a list of notable CMAJ articles by Dr. Sackett, with links to the full-text articles. Take a look at the series he wrote on how to read clinical journals—good advice when he wrote it that’s still relevant today.