For achievements in population science

Since 2016, the Radboud Institute for Health Sciences honors an outstanding scientist every two years for their extraordinary achievements in one of the population sciences.

read about John Graunt

For achievements in population science

In the seventeenth century, the influential Londoner John Graunt developed early human statistical and census methods that later provided a framework for modern demography. He produced the first life table, giving probabilities of survival to each age.

Many consider Graunt as the first epidemiologist, since his famous book “Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of Mortality” was concerned mostly with public health statistics. This book used analysis of the mortality rolls in early modern London, as the London officials attempted to create a system to warn of the onset and spread of bubonic plaque in the city. Though the system was never truly created, Graunt’s work in studying the rolls resulted in the first statistically based estimation of the population of London. John Graunt’s book led him to the Royal Society, where he presented his work and was subsequently elected a fellow with the endorsement of the King. He was later chosen as a member of the council of the Society.


John Graunt Award 2016 for Paul Pharoah

* Early work

Professor Paul Pharoah qualified in Medicine from the University of Oxford in 1986. After a series of posts in internal medicine he worked for a year in Malawi on a leprosy vaccine trial. Then he completed his training in public health medicine before taking up a post as research fellow in the CRC Human Cancer Genetics group at the University of Cambridge. Having completed his doctoral studies in 1999 he won a CRUK Senior Clinical Research Fellowship. On completion of his fellowship in 2009 he was appointed Reader in Cancer Epidemiology and then promoted to a personal Chair in 2012. He is now professor of cancer epidemiology at the Depts. of Oncology and Public Health & Primary Care of the University of Cambridge. In addition to this professor Pharoah is Director of Teaching of the Dept. of Public Health & Primary Care and Honorary Consultant in Public Health for Public Health England.

* Research group

Professor Pharoah runs a research group with major interests in

  1. the genetic susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancer
  2. methodological issues in investigating the polygenic basis of cancer susceptibility 
  3. the influence of germline genotype and molecular pathological characteristics of breast and ovarian cancer on prognosis and response to treatment.
Professor Pharoah has been pivotal for the start of the Breast Cancer Association Consortium and the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium, extremely successful global research collaborations to identify the genetic underpinnings of the risk and prognosis of breast and ovarian cancer. Through these consortia, dozens of new susceptibility loci and mutations have been identified. Professor Pharoah published almost 600 papers, many of them as senior or corresponding author.

* About the award

Since 2016, the Radboud Institute for Health Sciences honors an outstanding scientist every two years for their extraordinary achievements in one of the population sciences.

> read more about the award



John Graunt Award 2018 for Alessandro Vespignani

* Early work

Alessandro Vespignani received the John Graunt Award 2018, in recognition of his ground breaking research in the spreading of lethal infectious diseases. With his work,  Vespignani contributed to health protection of people around the planet by combining two research fields: epidemiology and network science. He showed that the social network of people plays a major role in the spreading of viruses. And this forms the basis for health scientists who are building models for the prediction and prevention of the spreading of viruses such as Zika and Ebola.

* Research group

Professor Vespignani’s research activities focus on the data-driven computational modeling of epidemic and spreading phenomena and the study of biological, social and technological networks.

* About the award

Since 2016, the Radboud Institute for Health Sciences honors an outstanding scientist every two years for their extraordinary achievements in one of the population sciences.

> read more about the award

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