Department History

  • 1901

    Research beginnings at the Mayo Clinic - Dr. Henry Plummer joins William Worrall Mayo and his sons as the 4th partner in the Mayo Practice. He urges Drs. Mayo to consider a research program as a necessary and vital part of the practice, and he introduces the unit medical record for each patient in 1907.

  • 1910

    Establishment of the first diagnostic index (Plummer-Root file) - Dr. Plummer devises a diagnostic index patterned after the 1888 Nomenclature of Diseases of the Royal College of Physicians. Two sophisticated coding systems were implemented on 5 x 7 index cards to catalog all medical diagnoses and surgical procedures. These systems comprise the foundation of the existing data infrastructure used by the department today.

  • 1929

    First biostatistician at the Mayo Clinic - Dr. Halbert Dunn was the first biometrician hired by the Mayo Clinic. He initiated the IBM coding system in medical statistics.

  • 1932

    First biostatistics department at the Mayo Clinic - Biometry and Statistical Department was created to apply the latest methodology in analyzing medical data.

  • 1934

    Re-organization of the biostatistics department - Dr. Joseph Berkson was named (“Berkson’s bias”) Head of the Division of Biometry and Medical Statistics. He remained as the Chair until 1964.

  • 1935

    Re-engineering of the indexing system using the IBM punch card technology - Dr. Joseph Berkson introduced a medical and surgical index that employed the new IBM Hollerith punch card.

  • 1964

    Establishment of the Department of Medical Statistics, Epidemiology and Population Genetics - The department was re-organized as the Department of Medical Statistics, Epidemiology and Population Genetics, and Dr. Leonard Kurland was named as the Chair.

  • 1966

    Establishment of the Rochester Epidemiology Project - Dr. Kurland initiated the population-based Rochester Epidemiology Project with funding from the National Institutes of Health.

  • 1987

    Re-organization and Establishment of the Department of Health Sciences Research - The department was re-organized under 4 divisions (as they exist today) and Dr. Jack Whisnant was named as the Chair. Subsequent department Chairs were Dr. Joseph Melton, III, 1993-1994; Dr. Michael O'Fallon, 1994-2000; Dr. Colum Gorman 2000-2001; Dr. Sherine Gabriel 2001-2007. The Chair since 2007 is Dr. Veronique Roger.