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Observations BMJ Confidential

John Ioannidis: Uncompromising gentle maniac

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 24 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4992


John Ioannidis, 50, is the scourge of sloppy science, whose 2005 paper, Why Most Published Research Findings are False, has achieved near legendary status. He recalls his rising excitement as he wrote the paper while on Sikinos, an island in the Cyclades, and the feeling that things were falling into place. He was born in New York, grew up in Greece, and now holds the chair in disease prevention at Stanford University, California. His dim view of medical science, radical in 2005, has since been supported by many empirical studies, the latest showing that 97% of head to head industry sponsored non-inferiority trials back the sponsor’s drug—a result he describes as “very curious.”

What was your earliest ambition?

To become an astronaut, Zorro, or a scientist.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

The late Tom Chalmers, the great champion of randomized trials and meta-analyses with whom I had the pleasure to work in his last years in Boston. I remember him pacing up and down the room in our brainstorming meetings, fresh with new ideas, even though he …

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