8 Mar 2013
Janet Lane-Claypon pioneered two research methods that today are central to epidemiology, but she doesn’t have the profile of other barrier-breaking female scientists from the first quarter of the 20th century. Katherine Nightingale spotted her name in the first MRC annual report and went in search of information about this trailblazing scientist, admired for her intellect and rigour.
Unsurprisingly, the first MRC annual report, published in 1915, is a rather male affair; the text is littered with Williams, Henrys and Stanleys. Aside from the mildly mysterious “Miss Ferguson” and “a woman bacteriologist” whose identity we may never know, one of the few women mentioned in the report is the physician and epidemiologist Dr Janet Elizabeth Lane-Claypon.
Janet is referenced in the report because she had been funded in that year to bring together and critique all existing research in milk and its ‘hygienic relations’ — its composition, nutritional value and hygienic production. At the time Janet was working as Assistant Medical Inspector to the Local Government Board, having already achieved much in her research career. [...]