KNAW webinar

Randomness in Medicine

26 October 2021 from 19:00 to 20:30 hrs
Online, via Zoom
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If we knew all the external causes and internal mechanisms involved in the development of diseases, would chance still play a role in who does or does not get cancer, for example? Can we predict whether an individual will develop heart disease or Alzheimer's? In this webinar, three scientists talk about their research and present challenging statements about the role of chance in medicine.


  • George Davey Smith, director of the Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit, University of Bristol – Chance as the fundamental element in epidemiological thinking
  • Jan Vandenbroucke, professor emeritus of clinical epidemiology at Leiden University Medical Center – Medicine as a stochastic art
  • Olaf Dekkers, professor of research methodology at the departments of clinical epidemiology and endocrinology at Leiden University Medical Center - Randomness in treatment
  • Panel discussion moderated by Brenda Penninx, professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the Amsterdam UMC

Read more on this topic

Smith GD. Epidemiology, epigenetics and the 'Gloomy Prospect': embracing randomness in population health research and practice. Int J Epidemiol. 2011 Jun;40(3):537-62. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyr117. PMID: 21807641.

Dekkers OM, Mulder JM. When will individuals meet their personalized probabilities? A philosophical note on risk prediction. Eur J Epidemiol. 2020 Dec;35(12):1115-1121. doi: 10.1007/s10654-020-00700-w. Epub 2020 Nov 28. PMID: 33247797.

Ierodiakonou K, Vandenbroucke JP. Medicine as a stochastic art. Lancet. 1993 Feb 27;341(8844):542-3. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(93)90294-q. PMID: 8094784.