Tribute to a pioneer and a future international leader in the philosophy of epidemiology

​Professor Alex Broadbent, Associate Professor at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), a P-rated National Research Foundation (NRF) researcher and senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy, is this year’s recipient of the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Award for The Most Promising Young Researcher of the Year. ​​


Prof Broadbent received his PhD in 2008 from the University of Cambridge and joined the UJ Department of Philosophy as a Senior Lecturer in March 2011. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2013, with the promotion backdated to December 2012. Prof Broadbent is also an Affiliated Research Scholar in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. He has been a visiting professor, fellow and researcher to various universities including: the University of Vienna, University of Athens and the Brocher Foundation. His research area is specialization is the Philosophy of Epidemiology, causation, causal inference, prediction, scientific and statistical evidence in policy-making and law and causation in the law.
He has published over 10 journal articles, one book, a number of chapters in edited volumes and book reviews, and has contributed to well over 20 international conferences. He sits on two editorial boards, and has organised a number of important workshops in the field.
Prof Broadbent has more or less single-handedly established a new field of study, the philosophy of epidemiology, and has had a striking success persuading philosophers of science, epidemiologists, public health specialists and similar kinds of scholars to acknowledge it and engage with it. His first article on the topic, “Causation and Models of Disease in Epidemiology” has already achieved a wide readership, and his book (published this year) is currently being reviewed by the leading journals in both philosophy and epidemiology.
He has also published important work in the philosophies of law, causation and responsibility. Given the high profiles and competitive forums where the work has been published, and the positive reception it has received from scholars around the world, Prof Broadbent was awarded the prestigious ‘P’ rating by the NRF in 2013, an NRF President’s award for a ‘young researchers who have demonstrated the potential of becoming future international leaders in their field’. He has also been elected a member of the South African Young Academy of Sciences, and almost immediately elected as co-chair of the organisation.
Beyond the quality and impact of his publications, Prof Broadbent has advanced research in additional ways at the University of Johannesburg. He carries the highest postgraduate supervision load in the Department of Philosophy, and has introduced a number on new innovative research support tools such as the postgraduate handbook, and contributions to UJ’s plagiarism policy. He is indeed the most promising young researcher of the year.​​
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