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Alvan R Feinstein did not write extensively about the history of medicine. But in the 20th century he himself was a protagonist. He influenced the very meaning of clinical research. He eschewed the concept of the patient as merely the ultimate beneficiary of clinical research and closed the loop by demonstrating that the best clinical data were provided by the patient. Feinstein died on 25 October 2001 at the age of 75. He had been a physician for almost 50 years and a teacher of medical sciences for at least 45. He was a distinguished graduate of the University of Chicago in mathematics (BSc 1947; MSc, 1948) and medicine (MD, 1952). He progressed to specialisation and related academic pursuits at Yale and Columbia universities as well as the Rockefeller Institute. He was Board Certified in Internal Medicine (1955). He published his first paper as a medical student in 1951 and his 410th this year. He wrote six major textbooks, finishing the last one, Principles of medical statistics, just before he died. At the time of his death he was the Sterling Professor Medicine and Epidemiology, the highest academic distinction at Yale University.
He became different things to those of us who came to know him well. We all cherished him as a teacher. Many who became close, particularly three and four decades ago, have become teachers of medicine ourselves. This article, a brief recognition of his life and his work is personal but I am sure it is not unique. I will dwell on his life as a teacher, a teacher's teacher and an innovator. Feinstein founded clinical epidemiology. Inspired by his first major book Clinical Judgment and taught by …