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The Father of Trial Randomization Dies

Statistician Paul Meier, who championed the random assignment of patients to treatment groups in clinical trials, changed the way the researchers test experimental drugs.

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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IMAGE COURTESY OF THE SEATTLE MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES

Paul Meier, the statistician who revolutionized clinical trials in the United States, died last Sunday (August 7) from complications following a stroke, according to the New York Times. He was 87-years-old.

In the mid-1950s, Meier championed randomization in clinical trials, arguing that the way in which researchers assigned treatments to whichever participants they thought would benefit most was likely skewing results. Sir Richard Peto, an Oxford University epidemiologist and contemporary of Meier's, told the Times that, more than any other US statistician, Meier was "the one who influenced US drug regulatory agencies, and hence clinical researchers throughout the US and other countries, to insist on the central importance of randomized evidence."

In 1958, Meier and collaborator Edward Kaplan, a researcher at the University of California Radiation Laboratory, published a paper describing a new, more efficient method for estimating survival rates for patients...

Meier is survived by his wife Louise, three daughters, and five grandchildren.

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