restricted access The Benevolent Tyranny of Biostatistics: Public Administration and the Promotion of Biostatistics at the National Institutes of Health, 1946–1970

This article explores the central role of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in developing and promoting biostatistics in American biomedical research between the late 1940s and the late 1960s. During this period, the NIH invested in the training of both intramural and extramural biostatisticians and was considered the single largest user of biostatisticians in the country. In addition to helping meet the scientific needs of NIH investigators, this article argues that biostatisticians played a critical role in aligning NIH-funded scientific endeavors with new public administration mandates and policies. In particular, it argues that the changing expectations of federal oversight and management played a central, though largely unrecognized, role in the growing presence of biostatistics at the NIH and in American health and biomedical research during the 1960s.