The Seven Countries Study: Addendum
The University of Minnesota Laboratory of Physiological Hygiene, located at Memorial Stadium Gate 27, on the Minneapolis campus, was at the hub of the Seven Countries Study operation from the outset.
The research of Keys and collaborators had grown rapidly during World War II. The small faculty of the laboratory traded the teaching of physiology to physical education students for the space of the visiting coaches’ locker rooms underneath the bleachers of the stadium.
There, researches on the biology of human starvation, which became classics, were carried out. Over the years, the underground facility expanded steadily, eventually occupying the entire south wing of the stadium. Those who trained and visited there still look back with great nostalgia on the scientific activity and collegiality in that unique setting. The work on human biology, and on the population phenomena causing mass diseases, was satisfying for all participants, a different satisfaction perhaps from those of other subterranean researches (eg. Enrico Fermi’s atomic facility located under the University of Chicago stadium!)
Gate 27 housed the coordinating staff of the Seven Countries Study and the principal offices of Ancel Keys, Henry Taylor and me. It also housed the Seven Countries chemistry and nutrition laboratories; the data editing, analysis and statistical center; and was the site of ongoing researches and training of Seven Countries collaborators from around the world. These activities are described in greater detail in another volume, The Seven Countries Study: A Scientific Adventure in Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology.
In 1967, Alessandro Menotti took over in large part the Seven Countries coordination responsibilities, following his training at the London School of Hygiene and at the University of Minnesota. Since his 1993 retirement, the coordination is shared between the University of Minnesota and the National Institute of Public Health in The Netherlands. Menotti remains a part-time professor at Minnesota.
At the outset of the Seven Countries Study, a firm collaboration in methods development grew between us and Geoffrey Rose at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. We wrote together a manual embracing all cardiovascular disease survey methods under the aegis of the World Health Organization. The Third Edition of that manual, Cardiovascular Survey Methods, is in preparation under the chairmanship of Russell Luepker, now head of the Division of Epidemiology at the School of Public Health in Minnesota.
Here I recount the development of the Minnesota Code, which was a part of our central preparations for the Seven Countries Study.
• For more about Gate 27 and the work that went on there, download a copy of,
“Behind Gate 27 In the bowels of the University of Minnesota’s Memorial Stadium, Ancel Keys launched seminal studies on starvation and heart disease.”