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Allen Wilcox Honored by University of Bergen

By Eddy Ball
August 2008

Allen Wilcox
NIEHS Epidemiologist Allen Wilcox (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

The medieval royal hall where the degree will be conferred
Haakonshallen, the medieval royal hall where the degree will be conferred (Photo courtesy of Magnus Vabø, University of Bergen)

The contributions of NIEHS Senior Investigator Allen Wilcox, M.D., Ph.D. to the field of epidemiology will be recognized in Norway on August 29, when the University of Bergen will award him an honorary degree. The University's Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry will confer the degree Doctor Honoris Causa during a ceremony to be held in Haakonshallen or "Haakon's Hall," the medieval royal hall of the city of Bergen.

In its notification message, the University of Bergen ( Exit NIEHS commended Wilcox for "major contributions in making epidemiology one of the central disciplines in modern medicine." Wilcox has worked in the NIEHS Epidemiology Branch since 1979 and served as Chief of the Branch from 1991 to 2001. His research has focused mainly on fertility and pregnancy, and he has published more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and more than 50 book chapters, commentaries, editorials and popular-science articles. His book, Fertility and Pregnancy - An Epidemiologic Perspective, is scheduled to be published by Oxford University Press in 2009.

Among his contributions to the field is a groundbreaking study on very early pregnancy, in which he and his colleagues established for the first time that one out of four human pregnancies end in very early loss before women even know they are pregnant. His most recent research has focused on birth defects, including the environmental and genetic causes of cleft lip and palate ( Exit NIEHS.

Since 2001, he has been Editor-in-Chief of Epidemiology, one of the highest-ranked journals in the field of public health. He is past president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research, the Society for Perinatal and Pediatric Epidemiologic Research and the American Epidemiological Society.

The hall where the degree ceremony will be held is part of the Bergenhus Fortress complex in an ancient section of the city known as Holmen. At the time the fortress buildings were constructed, Bergen was the capital of Norway, and Holmen was the main seat of the nation's rulers. Haakonshallen was built around 1260, and one of its first uses was for the wedding and coronation in 1261 of King Magnus Lagabøte. Haakonshallen remains a major attraction and venue for formal events in the city.

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