John Snow Bicetenary

Dr. Gary Slutkin, Founder & Executive Director of Cure Violence, was invited to speak at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on April 11—12, 2013 to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of John Snow (read Dr. Slutkin’s contribution to “John Snow’s legacy: epidemiology without borders” in the Lancet).

Dr. Snow, founding father of epidemiology the science used to determine the best method to deal with the most pressing health threats had been instrumental not only in containing a cholera outbreak in London in 1854 (see video below), but was also the first to recognize that the disease was waterborne. Prevailing theories at the time considered cholera to be spread by “miasma” or bad air, but Dr. Snow was able to track the outbreak to a contaminated pump. His efforts not only saved countless lives over the past two centuries, but also transformed the way people thought about the epidemic.

Just as the micro-organisms causing the cholera in Snow’s investigation were invisible and largely misunderstood in 1854, so too are the means of transmitting violence invisible, and in our current age of super-max prisons and mass-incarceration, largely misunderstood. As the Institute of Medicine (IOM) part of the National Academy of Sciences, observed in a two-day conference last year, the forward thinking violence prevention experts, specifically the work of Dr. Slutkin and Cure Violence, are an extension of Dr. Snow’s legacy.