Professor Archie Cochrane was born in Kirklands, Galashiels, Scotland. He qualified in 1938 at University College Hospital, London, at University College London and joined the Medical Research Council's Pneumoconiosis Unit at Llandough Hospital, a part of Cardiff University School of Medicine in 1948. Here he began a series of studies on the health of the population of Rhondda Fach — studies which pioneered the use of randomised controlled trials (RCTs).
Archie Cochrane’s experiences during the Spanish Civil War, where he served as a member of a British Ambulance Unit, and later during World War II as Medical Officer at a number of prisoner of war camps, had a profound and lasting effect on his future practice of medicine.
In 1960 he was appointed David Davies Professor of Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases at the Welsh National School of Medicine, now Cardiff University School of Medicine and nine years later became Director of the new Medical Research Council’s Epidemiology Research Unit at 4 Richmond Road, Cardiff.
His 1971 Rock Carling monograph Effectiveness and Efficiency: Random Reflections of Health Services was very influential. These ideas and his advocacy of randomized controlled trials eventually led to the development of the Cochrane Library database of systematic reviews, the establishment of the UK Cochrane Centre in Oxford and the international Cochrane Collaboration.