Born and raised in Clayton, Missouri, Dr. Drazen majored in applied physics at Tuft University and graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1972. After serving his medical internship at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, he joined the pulmonary divisions of the Harvard hospitals. He served as chief of Pulmonary Medicine at the Beth Israel Hospital, chief of the combined Pulmonary Divisions of the Beth Israel and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals, and then as chief of Pulmonary Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Through his research, Dr. Drazen defined the role of novel endogenous chemical agents in asthma, leading to four new licensed pharmaceuticals for asthma with millions of people on treatment worldwide. In 2000, he assumed the post of editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. During his tenure, the Journal has published major papers advancing the science of medicine including the first descriptions of SARS, timely coverage of the Ebola epidemic and Zika virus, and modifications in the treatment of cancer, heart disease and lung disease. It has also been at the forefront of the international effort to register all clinical trials. The Journal, which has over a million readers every week, has the highest impact factor of any journal publishing original research.

The Rise of Medical Evidence

The evolution of medical evidence from what we think to what we know will be reviewed in an historical context.
Medicine is powered by knowledge, but how do we know what is true and what is not? How do we deal with uncertainty in a setting where outcomes are not closely related to known variables? For example, although there are a few people who have survived jumping or falling from an airplane at high altitude (, it is a rare event. Thus, a test to determine how to prevent death from such a disaster would only take a small number of participants to see if a particular method works. In contrast, when considering a medical condition where a large fraction of people might seemingly “recover” without treatment, such as tuberculosis (, how does one determine if a treatment is effective? In this talk, I will examine how we gained knowledge about tuberculosis as an example of a disease where a combination of observational scientific findings and clinical trial data are linked to advance knowledge. I will also discuss other examples of clinical trials challenges and the solutions to these challenges.

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