NIH: Office of Disease Prevention

Robert S. Gordon, Jr. Lecture in Epidemiology

The Robert S. Gordon, Jr. Lecture was established in 1995 in tribute to Dr. Gordon for his outstanding contributions to the field of epidemiology and for his distinguished service to the National Institutes of Health. The award is made annually to a scientist who has contributed significantly to the field of epidemiology or clinical trials research. The Lectureship is awarded by the NIH on the advice of the Office of Disease Prevention in the Office of the Director and the recommendation of the Epidemiology & Clinical Trials Interest Group.

The Gordon Lecture is part of NIH's Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series (WALS), which was organized in 1994 by the Office of Intramural Research to invite distinguished scientists to present topics of broad scientific interest to a cross-section of NIH researchers.

2016 Award Winner

Michael B. Bracken, Ph.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.E.

Michael B. Bracken, Ph.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.E.

Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases) and Professor of Neurology and of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences

Co-Director, Center for Perinatal, Pediatric and Environmental Epidemiology

Yale School of Public Health

Recent Lecture

Inefficiency and Waste in Biomedical Research:
How Prevalent Is It, What Are Its Causes, and How Is It Prevented?

April 20, 2016
3.00 p.m.
NIH Campus
Masur Auditorium (Building 10)
Bethesda, Maryland


About the Lecture

It has been estimated that over $200 billion is spent worldwide annually on biomedical research, but that as much as 85% may be wasted. What are the determinants of research waste, and is such a high figure justified? A series of five papers in The Lancet (January 8, 2014) introduced these topics in detail and were updated in this lecture. The presentation focused on redundancy and duplication of research hypotheses, research designs that cannot reliably test hypotheses, publication bias, and irreproducibility. Solutions for reducing waste and increasing value were discussed.

About Michael B. Bracken, Ph.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.E.

Michael Bracken, Ph.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.E. External Website Policy is the Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science, and Professor of Neurology at Yale University School of Public Health. He is a former Head of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at Yale, and former Vice Chairman (Deputy Dean) of the Yale School of Public Health, where he has studied and taught for the last 44 years. He is a sometime Research Fellow in Green Templeton College, Oxford University. Professor Bracken has published some 380 articles in the scientific literature and has authored three books, including: Perinatal Epidemiology (1984) and Effective Care of the Newborn Infant (with J.C. Sinclair, 1992), both published by Oxford University Press. In 2006, his last book, which introduced the concepts of meta-analysis into neonatology, was named by the British Medical Journal as one of the most influential books in evidence-based medicine and was instrumental in assisting the foundation of the international Cochrane Collaboration. Professor Bracken’s new book: Risk, Chance, and Causation: Investigating the Origins and Treatment of Disease was published by Yale University Press in 2013. He is the founding Director of the Yale Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (in 1979) and Co-Director of its successor, the Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric and Environmental Epidemiology. Professor Bracken has taught courses in evidence-based medicine and health care, pharmaco-epidemiology, perinatal epidemiology, and general epidemiology at Yale for many years. He has directed numerous epidemiological investigations, almost all of which were funded (over $50 million in total) by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Professor Bracken has served on numerous study sections and committees of the NIH, including the Council of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. He chaired the first Congress of Epidemiology in 2001 and the first international colloquium on genome-wide association studies in 2006. Professor Bracken consults for many international corporations and agencies, including the World Health Organization, and he has served as the elected President of two major epidemiological organizations: the American College of Epidemiology and the Society for Epidemiologic Research. Professor Bracken is the 2013 recipient of the Lilienfeld Award from the American College of Epidemiology.

Previous Lectures:


Shiriki K. Kumanyika, Ph.D., M.P.H.
Professor Emerita of Epidemiology in the Department of Biostatistics & Epidemiology
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Research Directions for Solving the Obesity Epidemic in High-Risk Populations


Moyses Szklo, M.D., Dr.P.H., M.P.H. External Website Policy
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore
Epidemiology: Back to Translation (PDF - 370 KB)


Mitchell Gail, M.D., Ph.D.
Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics, National Cancer Institute
Using Risk Models for Breast Cancer Prevention (PDF - 476KB)


Lewis H. Kuller, M.D., Dr.P.H.
University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
The Obesity Epidemic: Why Have We Failed? (PDF - 234KB)


Jonathan Samet, M.D.
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore
Big Epidemiology for Big Problems


Julie E. Buring, Sc.D.
Harvard Medical School, Boston
What Do We Do When Studies Disagree?

Previous Lectures