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FAU Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine Professor Honors Mentor at Richard Doll Centenary Meeting at University of Oxford

BOCA RATON, FL (October 26, 2012) — Charles H. Hennekens, MD, DrPH, the first Sir Richard Doll Research Professor in Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, was recently invited to speak at the University of Oxford in the U.K. to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Professor Sir Richard Doll, FRS, his mentor and the premier epidemiologist of the 20th Century who died in 2005. Doll was the Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford from 1969 to 1979, and the first to document the relationship of cigarette smoking with lung cancer in 1950.

“Since 1969, Richard was my mentor, colleague and friend,” said Hennekens. “It was truly an honor and privilege to work with him, and to paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton, ‘if I have seen further it is because I have stood on the shoulders of a giant.’”

Hennekens was Visiting Epidemiologist in the Department of the Regius Professor of Medicine at the University of Oxford from 1978 to 1979. Doll also founded Green College at the University of Oxford where Hennekens is currently Visiting Fellow and a member of the Clinical Trial Service and Epidemiology Studies Unit (CTSU).

Since Doll did seminal work on the hazards of smoking, Hennekens' lecture focused on his own work on cigarette smoking, oral contraceptives and risks of cardiovascular disease. He explained that in women of childbearing age, the increased risks of cardiovascular disease are about twofold due to the use of oral contraceptives, about tenfold due to smoking, and about fortyfold among women who use the pill and smoke cigarettes.

“Based on their relatively low absolute risks, among nonsmokers, up to about age 40 the cardiovascular disease risks of the oral contraceptive pill are less than the risks of pregnancy,” said Hennekens. “At older ages, however, the absolute excess death rates from oral contraceptives raise the question of whether it is warranted to continue their prescription even among nonsmokers. Among smokers, those who cannot stop should consider other methods of contraception by age 35.”

Hennekens further explained that the consistency of the findings and the size of the estimated risks support the belief that the observed associations are causal.

“Richard Doll had a seminal influence on my own research, which has documented the benefits of aspirin, statins, angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB) as well as beta adrenergic blockers, all of which play major roles in decreasing premature deaths from heart attacks and strokes,” said Hennekens.

Science Watch ranked Hennekens as the third most widely cited medical researcher in the world from 1995-2005, and five of the top 20 were his former trainees and/or fellows. In addition, in 2012 Science Heroes ranked Hennekens No. 81 in the history of the world for having saved more than1 million lives.


Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit

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