Remembering Paul Meier

Paul Meier passed away–he of the Kaplan-Meier survival curve. Dennis Hevesi of the New York Times and Aaron Carroll at the Incidental Economist bring their respective awesomeness to remembering this great statistician and health services researcher. Meier was yet another pioneering scholar working right across the Midway from where I type this post. If you’ve ever benefited from a medication or intervention that was tested through randomized trials, you probably owe a little something to Paul Meier. RIP.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect,, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

4 thoughts on “Remembering Paul Meier”

  1. I had not realized that he had still been alive until this morning, assuming that since his name was associated with a well-established statistical test, he must be long dead. It shows how recently developed are many aspects of research methodology which seem always to have been there. Sir David Cox, it appears, is still with us; I had similarly assumed that since Cox regression was in all the textbooks, he must have been long departed. Cox and Kaplan-Meier together dominate almost all discussions of interventions which affect the amount of time which elapses until the occurrence of an event of interest. Until 2006, all three were still living. This serves as a reminder of the fact that research methods do not date from time immemorial, and that what “everyone knows” today was unheard of within living memory.

  2. As a reliability engineer, I have frequently used a Kaplan-Meier Estimator. Salutations to his memory. I have lost the reference, but I believe the original Kaplan-Meier paper is one of the most cited of all time.

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