Sir Austin Bradford Hill was born on 8 July 1897 in Hampstead, London, son of Sir Leonard Erskine Hill (1866-1952), professor of physiology at the London Hospital medical college, and his wife, Janet, n&e Alexander (1868-1956). Bradford Hill was educated at Chigwell School, 1908-1916. He was destined for the study of medicine when, as a pilot in World War One, he was invalided out of the forces with near fatal tuberculosis while serving at Gallipoli in the Dardanelles campaign.
Recovering at home, he took an external London degree in economics and, encouraged by the family friend Major Greenwood, began statistical studies for the Medical Research Council in 1923. Moving with Greenwood to the new London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 1927, he became Reader in Epidemiology and Vital Statistics, 1933-1945. The first edition of his textbook Principles of Medical Statistics was published in 1937 and has influenced generations of medical statisticians and epidemiologists, and left its mark on the development of medical science in the second half of the twentieth century, as have his seminal studies on carcinogenic effects of smoking (with Richard Doll) and on the use of randomisation in clinical trials of new drugs. Bradford Hill was Honorary Director of the MRC's Statistical Research Unit, 1945-61; 'acting' Dean, then Dean of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 1955-1957.
CBE, 1951; knighted, 1961; elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, 1954, and received honorary degrees from Oxford and Edinburgh and many honorary fellowships and medals, including an honorary fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of London and the gold medal of the Royal Statistical Society, 1953. Bradford Hill died, 18 April 1991.
Publications include: Principles of medical statistics (The Lancet; Oxford University Press, London and New York, 1971); Statistical methods in clinical and preventive medicine (Livingstone, Edinburgh, 1962) and Experimental epidemiology by M. Greenwood, A. Bradford Hill, W. W. C. Topley and J. Wilson, Medical Research Council (Great Britain) Special report series, no. 209 (H. M. Stationery Office, London, 1936).