Medical Research Council (1948)

Streptomycin treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis: a Medical Research Council investigation. BMJ 2:769-782.
The UK Medical Research Council’s 1948 report of a controlled trial of streptomycin for pulmonary tuberculosis was a methodological landmark because it provided detailed information about the trial, and in particular, the steps taken to prevent foreknowledge of treatment assignments.

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Whole article


Austin Bradford Hill (1897-1991)


Video / Audio

Recording of Sir Austin Bradford Hill

This audio file contains a recording of Sir Austin Bradford Hill reflecting on the MRC randomized trial of streptomycin for pulmonary tuberculosis. It was recorded on Friday 8 September 1989, at the request of Bradford Hill’s friend, William Silverman, who subsequently arranged for the text to be transcribed and published (“Memories of the British Streptomycin Trial in Tuberculosis,” Controlled Clinical Trials 1990;11:77-9). The editors of the James Lind Library are indebted to William Silverman and Tony Johnson, who is responsible for the Bradford Hill Library in Cambridge, for permission to publish the recording (which lasts about 10 minutes).

MRC 1948 (Strep for Pulmonary TB)


Extract from Dr Kenneth Citron’s interview of Dr Philip D’Arcy Hart, secretary to the MRC’s Streptomycin Trials Committee, about the MRC trial of streptomycin for pulmonary tuberculosis (with permission from Dr Citron and the Medical Sciences Video Archive at Oxford Brookes University). Philip D’Arcy Hart, Austin Bradford Hill (statistician), Marc Daniels (field coordinator) and Charlene Agnew (administrator) constituted the management team for the trial.


The editors are grateful to:

BMJ for allowing the James Lind Library to link to this and other BMJ articles of historical relevance (email to Iain Chalmers from Fiona Godlee, 05 May 2015).

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  • Scadding JW (2017).
    John Guyett Scadding’s scepticism and pragmatism in addressing treatment uncertainties in clinical practice.
  • Bryder L (2014).
    The Medical Research Council and treatments for tuberculosis before streptomycin.
  • Chalmers I (2010).
    Why the 1948 MRC trial of streptomycin used treatment allocation based on random numbers.
  • Armitage P (2009).
    A note on the statistical analysis of the 1948 MRC streptomycin trial.
  • Yoshioka AY (1998).
    Streptomycin, 1946: British central administration of supplies of a new drug of American origin with special reference to clinical trials in tuberculosis. Philosophy Thesis, University of London.
  • Bastian H (2004).
    Down and almost out in Scotland: George Orwell, tuberculosis and getting streptomycin in 1948.
  • Crofton J (2004).
    The MRC randomized trial of streptomycin and its legacy: a view from the clinical front line.
  • Crofton J (2005).
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  • Tansey EM (2006).
    Philip Montagu D’Arcy Hart (1900-2006).

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