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Talk on the meaning of cerebral palsy to be given, Oct. 7

"The Meaning of Cerebral Palsy: Science, Law, and Social Responsibility" will be the topic of a talk given by J. Rosser Matthews on Monday, Oct. 7. The lecture, which is sponsored by the Center for Health and Wellbeing at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, will be held at 4:30 p.m. in 300 Wallace Hall.

Matthews' talk will be based on his paper, "What's In a Name? Birth-Related Neurological Injury, No Fault Compensation Programs, and the 'Web of Causation,'" in which he explores the benefits of adopting the view that birth asphyxia is seldom the cause of cerebral palsy. The paper is available in advance of the lecture at 342 Wallace Hall.

Matthews graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1985 with a double major in mathematics and philosophy and subsequently earned a Master's degree and Ph.D. in history from Duke University with a specialization in the history of science and medicine. In 1995, his doctoral dissertation (which traced the history of statistical reasoning in medicine from the end of the 18th century to the emergence of the modern randomized controlled clinical trail) was published by Princeton University Press under the title 'Quantification and the Quest for Medical Certainty.'

In 1997, Matthews earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the College of William and Mary with a focus on health care policy. Later in that year, he worked for the College's Center for Public Policy Research on a project involving Virginia's Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Program, a no-fault system that attempted to remove severe cases of cerebral palsy from the tort system. Work on this project, coupled with a longstanding interest in the history of statistical reasoning in the medical and policy arenas, led him to apply for a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health to research the history of epidemiological thinking regarding the etiology of cerebral palsy. He was awarded this fellowship and spent 2001-2002 as a DeWitt Stetten, Jr. Memorial Fellow in the History of Biomedical Sciences and Technology.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601

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