Cochrane is proud to announce new lifetime and emeritus memberships, recognizing the extraordinary contributions of individuals who have made an exceptional, long-standing contribution to Cochrane’s work and leadership.
Cochrane's strength is in its collaborative, global community. Over the last 30 years, our members and supporters from more than 130 countries have worked together to produce credible, accessible health information and help inform health decision-making. Though we are spread out across the globe, our shared passion for health evidence unites us.
Cochrane’s Membership scheme helps reward everyone who helps provide produce and disseminate Cochrane evidence, as well as provide leadership for our strategic goals. Membership is a valuable addition to résumés, gives you voting rights, and opens opportunities for getting involved in governance and learning opportunities.
We are proud to recognise extraordinary contributions to Cochrane with Emeritus and Lifetime Memberships. These will be awarded to those who have contributed to Cochrane’s success over many years and are now reducing or ending their active time with Cochrane.
Individuals who made a significant long-standing contribution to the leadership of the organization.
Individuals at all levels of the organization who have made an exceptional, long-standing commitment to Cochrane's work.
Individuals who made a significant long-standing contribution to the leadership of the organization.
"Cochrane Germany, Cochrane Switzerland and Cochrane Austria are sending congratulations to Gerd on his well-deserved emeritus status. Throughout his career, Gerd has been a driving force in the advancement of evidence-based healthcare and critical thinking, particularly in the German-speaking countries. Our collaboration spans many years, and we have greatly enjoyed working with him. We are so very pleased to see Cochrane honor his life-time contributions. Without Gerd’s support, Cochrane Germany, Cochrane Sitzerland and Cochrane Austria would not be where they are today. Vielen Dank, Gerd!"
Joerg Meerpohl, Erik von Elm and Gerald Gartlehner
Sally Bell-Syer - In 1999, I was undertaking a series of systematic reviews at the University of York when I was approached by Nicky Cullum, the Co-ordinating Editor of the Cochrane Wounds Group, and asked if I would be interested in joining their team as their Trial Search Co-ordinator (now information Specialist). This was an exciting time to join, as the Wounds Group was growing and developing with new authors becoming engaged in review writing. After three years I took over the Managing Editor (ME) role and became actively involved in supporting and training authors in systematic review methodology whilst continuing to be involved in collaborating on writing reviews for both the Wounds and the Skin Group.
I remained in this post until my retirement from the University. At that point I joined the Managing Editor Support team and continued to enjoy working with all of my colleagues in the review groups for several more years.
I have far too many highlights of being involved with Cochrane to mention! Overall, I think being part of such an amazing organisation which was built on hard work, vision and time given voluntarily in working towards a common goal. But in particular the ME community who are (in my personal view) the keystone of Cochrane, supporting the authors producing the reviews that is the Cochrane Library of today.
We worked hard and had a lot of fun but were fundamental to many of the organisational developments; included forming the MEs’ Executive, running training courses and establishing documentation to support the editorial role and then achieving funding for the ME Support team.
Special highlights – the time spent with the MEs’ Executive, travelling to Colloquia, and having the opportunity of meeting face-to-face, my term representing MEs on the Steering Group (now Governing Board) and of course being awarded the Chris Silagy Prize, nominated by my peers.
The evidence-based healthcare movement has grown massively and Cochrane is at its very core. The pioneering vision and work undertaken to establish Cochrane was ground-breaking. Cochrane Reviews have developed over time and represent a resource which is highly respected and accessible to all. They have relevance to every aspect of society whether you are a healthcare provider, a carer, a patient, a researcher or policy maker. The truly international base of the organisation is a real strength as well as its diversity and inclusivity. It has stayed true to its purpose and mission whilst creating a cohesive and supportive community.
Over the years I have introduced many people to take up positions within the Cochrane organisation and many of them are still there. The author community, however, has evolved dramatically and Cochrane through its partnership with Wiley has meant that the authoring process is much more aligned to that of a medical journal. This development has been an organic change over many years and has embraced the emerging technologies. Support is now available in a wealth of online support and training materials which are available to all. To contribute to a fabulous resource such as the Cochrane Library is a rewarding experience for anyone wanting to contribute to evidence-based healthcare. Anyone interested in getting involved, be they authors, consumers, healthcare providers, researchers, health care professionals and from any country in the world can be assured they will receive a warm welcome.
"For more than 20 years, Sally Bell-Syer made a huge contribution to the work of Cochrane through her work with the Wounds Group and as an advocate for Managing Editors (MEs). She sat on the Cochrane Steering Committee, set up and convened MEs Executive. Also, after identifying the need for specific mentoring and support for her ME colleagues she put together the concept of the ME Support Team. Once established Sally spent six years ably assisting and mentoring MEs, both new and old, to take on the challenges and demands of an ME. While working for Cochrane Sally went above and beyond her role and is a very deserved of an Emeritus Membership."
Gail Quinn and Clare Jess
Xavier Bonfill - In 1994 I attended my first Colloquium in Hamilton (Canada) and began promoting the Cochrane Collaboration in Spain, initially under the help and supervision of Alessandro Liberati (Ɨ 2012). In 1997 the Spanish Cochrane Centre was registered and I became its Director. In 2000, the Centre was registered as Iberoamerican Cochrane Centre (IbCC) because we assumed the responsibility of promoting and coordinating the Cochrane activities in the Latin American Spanish-speaking countries besides Spain and Portugal.
I was the director of the IbCC since then and until early 2023. We established he Iberoamerican Cochrane Network formed by people from Spain and Latin America and many associate and affiliate centres based in health care centres, research institutes, universities and government bodies. I have co-authored more than 30 Cochrane reviews published in the Cochrane Library. I was the coordinating editor of the Lung Cancer Group between 1998 and 2003 and was a member of the Cochrane Governing Board for the period 2019 - 2021.
We started translating the Cochrane reviews into Spanish in 2000 and publishing them in the platform that we created: the Biblioteca Cochrane Plus (BCP). Starting in 2003 until now the Spanish Ministry of Health has maintained a national subscription to the BCP, similarly to what has happened in other Iberoamerican countries in different periods. The usage of the BCP has been always very high (in millions). It was fully integrated into the enhanced Cochrane Library in 2019.
I would distinguish two dimensions of Cochrane impact: the first, more technical and material, has consisted in the elaboration of a huge amount of documented evidence about a great diversity of interventions, not only on the most conventional ones, distributed in different formats and languages. The development of methodologies in evidence synthesis has also been dramatic and a lot of people over the world have benefited from that. Many health care individual decisions and recommendations included in CPGs have been more appropriate thanks to the existence of Cochrane materials and methods.
The second dimension is social: the existence of a worldwide network based on a Collaboration with idealistic, democratic and generous principles, open to anyone from any country and background, including patients and citizens, has been a landmark by itself and contributed to demonstrate the kind of pathway that our world should follow if aspires to peace and harmony.
Cochrane has new challenges today, which are different from those existing 30 years ago. There are also many more opportunities, particularly in the field of information technologies. But I think the principles that led to constituting the Cochrane Collaboration continue to be still relevant and valid, and they should be well known and assumed consequently. I would add that efforts must be devoted for maintaining and promoting Cochrane as an organisation really global, participative, multilingual, and inclusive.
"Xavier's contribution to Cochrane has been impressive, right from the beginning of his involvement in 1994. His initial enthusiasm for Cochrane's ideal was soon complemented by his vision and drive to consolidate Cochrane first in Spain and soon after also in the Spanish-speaking world. Thanks to his inspiring and generous leadership style, he created the necessary complicities to establish the Iberoamerican Cochrane Network, a vibrant network that still endures today. We feel indebted to his legacy and are grateful for his hard and constant work which encourages us to continue with enthusiam in this new stage of great challenges and opportunities."
Gerard Urrútia Cuchí and Eva Madrid
Iain Chalmers played a pivotal role in the founding of Cochrane, revolutionizing the way healthcare information is disseminated and accessed. In the early 1990s, Chalmers recognized the need for a comprehensive database of high-quality evidence to guide medical decision-making. Working as the first director of the National Perinatal Epidemology Unit in Oxford, he led the development of Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth, one of the first collections of systematic reviews of health evidence. Inspired by Archie Cochrane's influential book "Effectiveness and Efficiency: Random Reflections on Health Services," Chalmers envisioned a global collaboration that would systematically review and synthesize research evidence on topics across healthcare.
In 1993, to bring his vision to life, Iain convened a meeting of nearly a hundred colleagues who agreed to establish the Cochrane Collaboration. Motivated by the enthusiastic reception given to the digital preparation, publication and updating of systematic reviews of interventions in pregnancy and childbirth, others embarked on the preparation, publication and promotion of systematic reviews across all of healthcare. The early versions of the Cochrane Collaboration's work were distributed on floppy discs and then CD-ROMs, reflecting the technological landscape of the time, and eventually used the world wide web, thus making evidence-based information more accessible to healthcare professionals and researchers worldwide. This innovative approach to assembling and disseminating evidence was rapidly recognised as an important innovation and led to the expansion and development of the Cochrane Collaboration into the globally recognized organization it is today.
"Iain Chalmers' pioneering efforts to improve health care decision-making in pregnancy and childbirth, and subsequent role as a co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration have profoundly impacted the practice of evidence-based medicine, globally. His dedication to rigorous research methodology, transparency, and fostering wider participation and collaboration has left an indelible mark on many of us. Through his vision and commitment Iain has inspired researchers and clinicians around the world to strive for excellence and encouraged a more inclusive and collaborative approach to generating and utilizing evidence in healthcare."
Karla Soares-Weiser and Jimmy Volmink
Kay Dickersin - I got invovled with the Cochrane Collaboration as Iain Chalmers said that he would like to do for ALL of medicine what he had done for the perinatal field. I, with many others, signed on then and there.
My personal highlight of my involvement is the annual Colloquiums. Every year, I would be fed up with the world, and then I went to the annual meeting. At the Colloquium I would then be inspired by all the idealistic men and women from all over the world who were engaged in making the dream a reality. It really was a collaboration.
The work Cochrane Collaboration do is so important. Who else should do it than someone who knows how to do the work systematically and well?
“We are beyond thrilled that Dr. Kay Dickersin, Professor Emerita at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is being recognized as an Emeritus Member of the Cochrane Collaboration. Dr. Dickersin was a founding member of the Cochrane Collaboration in 1993 and has been a strong advocate for Cochrane’s vision and methodology ever since. Her pioneering work on publication bias in the 1980s stimulated her multiple efforts to rectify the situation. She was a leader of initiatives for indexing randomized trials, development of search filters for identifying randomized trials, and trial registration. Dr. Dickersin deserves recognition for her immense contributions and commitment to Cochrane, and to the methodology of evidence synthesis that underpins every Cochrane systematic review.”
Tianjing Li and Bobbi Scherer
Muir Gray - As Director of R&D for the Anglia and Oxford Region of the NHS I was one of the joint funders of the UK Cochrane Centre and one Saturday morning Iain told me that he had had an idea and that was to set up a Cochrane Collaboration, and that one advantage of the name was that we could use the same logo that David Mostyn had prepared for the Cochrane Centre
A personal highlight of mine were the volunteers we recruited from Oxford clubs like the Headington Bridge Club to scan journal title pages to identifiy possible randomised controlled trials
The impact Cochrane has had on Evidence Based Medicine in part was result of recruiting Dave Sackett as Professor of EBM to Oxford , where he also took the Chair of the Collaboration. We can say that the Collaboration created the way EBM to move from being an excellent McMaster initiative to broaden to become EBHC world wide
My advice to someone interested in getting involved with Cochrane - Join the Revolution!
"We are delighted to present this prestigious award to Sir Muir Gray to honour his invaluable contributions as one of Cochrane's founders and chief visionaries. Sir Muir's dedication to Cochrane spans decades, from his instrumental role as the original Company Secretary and member of the original Steering Group to his ongoing engagement evidence synthesis. His unwavering commitment to promoting value in healthcare and inspiring countless individuals to participate as contributors and supporters makes him a true champion of Cochrane's mission."
Karla Soares-Weiser and Martin Burton
Jini Hetherington - I initially got involved with Cochrane as I was Administrator of the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit when Iain Chalmers was Director. In 1992 Iain took me, and several others with him when he established the Cochrane Centre, which later became the UK Cochrane Centre when the organisation became worldwide.
I have loved meeting and working with people from all over the world. Sharing the common cause of contributing towards evidence-based health care for the final twenty years of my working life gave me purpose and self-respect, as well as many friends of many different nationalities. I couldn’t have wished for anything better.
One of the Collaboration’s major strengths is that people with vastly differing skills and experience from each other all have something to offer. It is the mix of interests, abilities and nationalities that makes a Cochrane job so interesting and rewarding. I would just say, “Go for it!”
"We are thrilled to present the prestigious Emeritus Award to honour Jini Hetherington for her extraordinary contributions to Cochrane. Jini's invaluable involvement in the early stages of Cochrane, including her instrumental role in the development of the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Database, which later transformed into the renowned Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews/Cochrane Library, is truly commendable. As Cochrane's first administrator, her remarkable dedication in shaping crucial processes and policies, coupled with her unwavering support and warm hospitality extended to colleagues from around the world, exemplify her exceptional commitment to the Cochrane community. Jini's exceptional contributions make her highly deserving of this prestigious award."
Karla Soares-Weiser and Martin Burton
Sophie Hill - I first heard of Cochrane in the mid-1990s. After participating in a clinical guidelines committee for Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, I gave a paper at the 1996 Adelaide Cochrane Colloquium on ‘The liquorice all-sorts approach: review and synthesis of a mixed bag of research.’ This led to an invitation from Professor Chris Silagy to give a paper on consumers and evidence at a Melbourne seminar and my interest in the challenges of communication and evidence was appreciated by officers in the Victorian Department of Health. I was subsequently invited in 2000 to put in a proposal to take on the Coordinating Editor role of the Cochrane Consumers and Communication Group. I was influenced by a wonderful book by Light and Pillemer, titled ‘Summing Up’ (1984). The key message for me from this book was how can we make better decisions at a societal level informed by what we have already learned from reliable research. The applied nature of this question had a big impact on my thinking.
I have many happy memories of my involvement with Cochrane. Building an evidence base is a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. But so is working to make the organisation strong and productive and I had several roles where I could do this. I have been part of many wonderful teams of people working locally and around the world to contribute evidence to better decision making by consumers, health professionals and governments. The highlight of my career was working closely with the Victorian Department of Health to incorporate evidence on communication and participation into policy making. Cochrane has had many impacts on health care and health research. In the Cochrane Consumers and Communication Group, we were able to show that person-centred care really matters! There is strong and reliable evidence to demonstrate the importance of communication with patients, and that it can be done well, and it can be done poorly. Communication was long neglected by the health system. If Covid has shown us anything, it is how important communication has become, and obviously it is going to remain a critical challenge well into the future.
Cochrane is first and foremost a wonderful network of people around the world, all doing interesting things. It links research, health care and advocacy.
"We are very proud to have nominated Sophie Hill for Emeritus Membership of Cochrane and congratulate her on receipt of the award in recognition of her enormous contributions to Cochrane both internationally and within Australia. Over many years, Sophie has through her leadership, mentorship and many positions made an extraordinary contribution to Cochrane’s impact, methods, relevance and standing. All the while, Sophie has approached her roles in Cochrane as she approaches life: with integrity, intelligence, humility and humour. We are really fortunate to have worked closely with Sophie and incredibly pleased to see her work within Cochrane acknowledged in this way."
Rebecca Ryan and Sally Green
Anne Lydiatt - Years ago people who had questions about their treatment of medical conditions relied on information obtained from their doctor, family, friends, and some public information. This was at times helpful but not always and often didn’t answer the questions of most concern to the patient. It was this atmosphere in which the Cochrane reviews made their entrance - and were received by many who had questions and concerns about their treatment. I can remember people telling me that they didn’t have a medical background and were afraid it would just confuse them more. The plain language summary was a solution to that! Over the years I have referred many to the reviews and I know this has had an effect as they referred family and friend to the site.
Personally I have made many friends within the Cochrane family. People I knew I could call on when needed. They were always there and willing to answer my questions no matter how “dumb” I felt they were. I am not closely connected with Cochrane at this point but certainly tell people who are interested in becoming involved to contact the group or someone I know who is still closely connected.
I think at this time in health care we are dealing with a crisis - not just here in Canada but world-wide. People are desperate for information that will help them make decisions. Many are without a GP and I shudder to think of the info they are receiving from friends, family, and many of the unreliable sources of medical information available to us. I see this as an opportunity to make people more aware of evidence based medicine through public awareness and education by all various methods available.
"We are thrilled to congratulate Anne on being recognized as an Emeritus Member of the Cochrane Collaboration! Anne’s infinite enthusiasm and drive to improve health research and health care for arthritis patients has seen her take on a wide number of appointments as a patient research partner or representative locally, provincially, nationally and internationally. Perhaps more importantly, she has not only championed patient engagement in all of her work, but has been a steadfast, generous and selfless mentor to countless others she has engaged with or recruited. She has quite simply been the quiet but driving force behind successful patient engagement globally."
Peter Tugwell and Catherine Hofstetter
Nandi Siegfried - In the late 1990s I was working as registrar in a hospital in Sydney, Australia. My consultant tasked me with conducting a literature review and handed me an armful of papers to read, appraise and synthesize. The high attrition rate in the trials worried me, but I had no tools to address this when interpreting the trial findings. Fortunately a nursing colleague suggested I get in touch with the Cochrane Collaboration. I was delighted when Clive Adams, Co-ordinating Editor of the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group, immediately invited me to join a review team working on the very same topic. He knew little about me and less about my nascent abilities but welcomed me enthusiastically nonetheless. It was this founding Cochrane principle of building on enthusiasm which I have never forgotten and have always tried to follow when engaging with potential new authors.
We conducted the first iteration of that review through the postal services with hundreds of pages of search results sent across the ocean. The process ignited my wish to deepen my understanding of epidemiology, and I enrolled in a part-time Masters of Public Health at Sydney University. There I was fortunate to meet Les Irwig and Davina Ghersi, both early adopters of Cochrane. Over twenty years later that review is still updated regularly and I have drawn in many of my colleagues as team members along the way. It is a truly global review.
When I later returned to South Africa, I joined the South African Cochrane Centre (SACC) which had recently been established at the South African Medical Research Council, headed up by Jimmy Volmink. Together with our hard-working colleagues we spent the next 10 years raising awareness of evidence-based healthcare and training reviewers across sub-Saharan Africa. At the time Cochrane reviews were not indexed in PubMed, and we met a lot of resistance from clinical colleagues and policymakers which I must admit has not entirely disappeared. It wasn’t a natural career step as it is now, but we definitely had a sense that we were involved in something bigger than ourselves which kept us going.
A professional highlight, without a doubt, was establishing the Cochrane HIV/AIDS Mentoring Programme in partnership with George Rutherford and Gail Kennedy of the Cochrane HIV/AIDS Review Group based at UCSF in California. George and Gail had identified that there were few Cochrane HIV/AIDS reviews relevant to the African setting and my SACC colleague, Joy Oliver, and I recognised that review authors in our region required intensive mentoring in methods skills, software use, and writing assistance. We set out to provide this by linking experienced authors with novice reviewers and built up to 47 review authors from six African countries. The Programme was built on the principles of harnessing enthusiasm and enabling wide participation in the work of Cochrane. I must credit George and Gail for their commitment to an equitable partnership and thank Joy who was the real engine of the Programme. Joy’s passion for consumer involvement encouraged us to consider how to engage more equitably with HIV-focused advocacy organizations.
I enjoyed my earlier methodological work, alongside Martie Muller and Jon Deeks, on pooling data from observational studies, and have welcomed the opportunity to participate in Cochrane methodology development in subsequent years. An exciting creative project involved designing an evidence-based reproductive healthcare boardgame funded by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is still in use today. Obtaining WHO Primary Registry status for the Pan-African Clinical Trials Registry was hard work but with the support of the European and Developing Country Clinical Trial Partnership and dedicated staff, the registry has now registered close to 4000 trials.
Other highlights include celebrating Sir Iain Chalmers’ graduation as an honorary Fellow of the South African College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 2001 - I was thrilled to attend the graduation dinner with him. Watching staff members from the SACC and the Mentoring Programme rise to great heights in their careers has been inspiring – these include Tamara Kredo, Charles Wiysonge, Taryn Young, Lawrence Mbuagbaw and Vivek Naranbhai.
I have been extraordinarily privileged to work alongside two long-time Cochrane contributors, Jimmy Volmink and Mike Clarke. After 20 years, Jimmy continues to urge me to aim higher and Mike has the extraordinary ability to intuitively understand when to encourage me to make my voice heard. These are precious gifts. And without Cochrane, I never would have met Jini Hetherington, Sally Hopewell, Nancy Owens, Don Operario, Lisa Askie, Belen Dofitas and Yanina Sguaserro all of whom shared office space, provided safe haven and offered friendship to me and my family when we relocated to Oxford for three years.
The impact of Cochrane in driving quality healthcare has been immense in my region. Of course, we don’t have results from an RCT to prove this, but I would argue that a pre-post analysis would suffice. In the field of HIV specifically, results from systematic reviews, often those developed by Cochrane teams, have informed global policy in prevention, treatment and care, and driven the research agenda forwards. We also see evidence of Cochrane’s impact in the uptake of GRADE for guidelines development by the World Health Organization. It is gratifying to see reviews informing guidelines in the knowledge translation ecosystem.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that there is still a role for Cochrane in synthesizing findings, evaluating risk of bias, and communicating these to the public. Many of my scientifically-trained colleagues seemed to forget the most basic principles of epidemiology and allowed urgency to muddle their thinking at the time. We need to guard against this in future pandemics and learn from our mistakes.
Conducting a Cochrane review is committing to a way of life and thinking critically about risk of bias will permeate every facet of your being. For those who share the same desire to produce high-quality impactful reviews which matter to people in need of healthcare, participating in Cochrane can be highly satisfying work. Sadly, barriers to participation remain mostly related to language, geography, and residual colonial thinking. I would urge Cochrane members, new and old, to raise their voices so that these concerns can be aired openly, and hopefully galvanise Cochrane to provide equitable, safe and nurturing spaces for all.
“We are delighted that Nandi Siegfried has been awarded the Cochrane Emeritus award, recognizing her vast contributions of the past decades. We have experienced firsthand her leadership at Cochrane South Africa, co-coordinating the Cochrane HIV satellite editorial base at the height of the HIV pandemic, heading the HIV Mentoring Programme, and conducting practice changing reviews show her considerable contribution to the field. In parallel, Nandi was developing and advancing methods for Cochrane reviews, and championing the cause for clinical trial registration. She led the formal recognition of the Pan African Clinical Trial Registry as a WHO primary register, thus creating a platform to foster transparency and collaboration on the African continent. Nandi has been a champion for Cochrane in Africa and globally. We thank and congratulate Nandi on this wonderful achievement!”
Tamara Kredo and Jordi Pardo
"Few people encapsulate the ethos of Cochrane more than Prathap, and we’re delighted his contribution has been recognised with this Emeritus Award. Prathap’s energy and generosity of spirit was instrumental in setting up the Cochrane network in South Asia and securing a national licence to the Cochrane Library for India. For many years he tirelessly criss-crossed the region, training authors and encouraging the next generation of Cochrane leaders. And Prathap’s vocal talents were just as extraordinary – his rendition of REM's Losing my Religion (with lyrics about RevMan) at the Stavanger Colloquium remains an enduring memory 20 years on. Congratulations on a well-deserved Award."
Steve McDonald and Sally Green
Hywel Williams - How did I get involved with Cochrane? Simple – it was Sir Iain Chalmers. When I was finishing off my dermatology training and doing a PhD in epidemiology at St. John’s Dermatology Centre in London, I read an editorial in the BMJ by Iain about getting to grips with Archie Cochrane’s agenda. It stopped me in my tracks. I wrote a letter to Iain. Next thing I know, he invited me down to Cochrane Head Office in Oxford and I spent a whole day there. I found myself walking out with a box of letters from other interested people in starting a Cochrane Skin Group. That was it. I wrote to them all and contacted many others. It took a while to firm up our plans, and in 1996 we had our exploratory meeting which Iain kindly attended, and we were off. You can find all our key timelines here.
My personal highlights are working together with people from all over the world – no hierarchy. Also, working with patient contributors like Maxine Whitton who ended up leading the Cochrane review on vitiligo – a condition associated with loss of pigmentation that can affect people with dark skin profoundly. Our internal editorial team was a joy to work with – really committed people who were key in producing high quality reviews. We had a real sense of an international community in Cochrane and we were all on first name terms. We had an excellent team of editors committed to the principles of EBM. Our old motto was “the truth is out there”. I also learnt a lot from the Colloquia – fantastic workshops from people like David Moher, Barney Reeves and Jonathan Sterne. It also gave me a lot of satisfaction to hand over the co-ordinating editor role after 21 years to Bob Boyle from Imperial and Robert Dellavalle from Denver – both loyal, fair and knowledgeable systematic reviewers with great organisational and people skills.
The greatest impact Cochrane has had on evidence-based healthcare in dermatology was to shake up the world on the need for independent randomised controlled trials with active comparators – not the 23rd placebo controlled study of a new expensive drug. In fact, Cochrane Skin played a vital role in identifying uncertainties that were then picked up by the UK Dermatology Clinical Trials Network and funded by external bodies such as the NIHR. Several national trials have been completed as a result on vitiligo, pemphigoid, cellulitis, warts, eczema, basal cell carcinoma and acne. Some of the reviews also produced clear messages such as the lack of value in sentinel node biopsy and lymphadenectomy for melanoma – which was rapidly going down the evaluation bypass, or the lack of evidence for the painful ritual of freezing warts on the feet with liquid nitrogen. Most of all, it was the culture change that had the greatest impact so that dermatology colleagues started to think more about the value of undertaking systematic rather than traditional narrative reviews, and the need to try and base clinical practice on the best external evidence where possible
My advice to someone interested in getting involved in Cochrane would be to follow your heart. Jump in. Even if your review does not end up with a clear answer, concentrate on identifying the key priorities for future research. You will learn so much with the fantastic training materials now on offer. Most of all it is all about the lovely people you will meet. Collaborate, collaborate and collaborate and break down the normal professional boundaries that sometimes restrict our ability to help others.
Individuals at all levels of the organization who have made an exceptional, long-standing commitment to Cochrane's work.
Peter Herbison - When Adrian Grant set up the Cochrane Incontinence Group in 1995 he asked a colleague of mine, Don Wilson, if he would like to be an editor. Don and Adrian had collaborated in the past. Don said that he would happily join as long as I was also made an editor. Don wanted someone who was aware of the statistical and technical issues with him, and Adrian was pleased to have me. I was aware of the Collaboration and was very happy to join. Also, in Dunedin at that time was Jean Hay-Smith who had written reviews for the Pregnancy and Childbirth group and was to become a PhD student supervised by Don and myself. She had already been asked to be an editor of the incontinence group. So it was great to have three of us working together.
There are many personal highlights during my time at Cochrane... Publication of my first author Cochrane Review (Weighted vaginal cones for urinary incontinence), meeting people in person who I had looked up to, such as Doug Altman. Another highlight for me was going to Colloquiums where everyone was so supportive, not the competitive nature of some medical conferences I had been to. I also really valued learning that weighted averages were not as simple as they sound.
The impact of Cochrane is huge. When asked what the most important advances in healthcare have been, evidence based medicine is always in the top few mentioned. Cochrane has been instrumental in the evidence based medicine field by providing the best evidence about the success of treatments. People involved with the Collaboration have also led projects that look at how to produce the best evidence, and how to summarise that evidence. Examples are showing the importance of hiding the allocation in randomised trials, and network meta-analysis, which provides more clinically useful evidence than head-to-head comparisons.
If you are interested in getting involved in Cochrane, I would say do it. Writing a review teaches you a lot more than deeper understanding about a treatments and conditions — it also teaches a lot about science. If you don’t feel up to contributing to a review there are a lot of other ways to get involved.
"We would like to offer our heartfelt congratulations to Prof Peter Herbison on receiving a well deserved lifetime membership award. We nominated Peter for this award as he has been involved with Cochrane for over 20 years and has assisted 11 different methods and review groups over this time. He was a member of the statistical methods group and statistical editor for both the Bone, Joint and Muscle and the Incontinence groups. In addition to this he has co-authored over 24 Cochrane reviews. Peter has been invaluable to Cochrane New Zealand supporting New Zealanders authoring Cochrane reviews and has always been willing to give up his time to teach statistics to budding Cochrane authors, on Cochrane workshops. His teaching technique is always highly appreciated as he is able to communicate complex statistical theories in easy to understand language. He thoroughly deserves this recognition for all of the skills he has unselfishly shared over the years."
Assoc Prof Vanessa Jordan and Prof Cindy Farquhar
Anne Lethaby - I had a passion for evidence-based research and got a job with the Cochrane Gynaecology and Fertility group in 1996 as a systematic reviewer, not long after this group was established. The Co-ordinating Editor, Cindy Farquhar (a gynaecologist from New Zealand) had attended a course in Oxford with the original movers and shakers of Cochrane. Her passion and commitment were infectious.
My personal highlights of my involvement with Cochrane were the strong sense of collaboration and support from our own group plus others (including lots of fun!), the passion and search for constant improvement of the product offered and the challenges to always do better.
In some cases, systematic review findings have overturned established and not particularly evidence-based practices (often to the chagrin of established healthcare practitioners). It is virtually impossible for an active healthcare practitioner to keep abreast of all the new developments in research and continue to improve his/her practice without the comprehensively developed systematic reviews that summarise all available evidence to date.
Since Cochrane came on the scene, we find ourselves in an internet age where it is easy to have information overload and it is difficult for the consumer of health information to know how to separate out the wheat from the chaff. The quality of the information that we receive from multiple sources can cause major disruption, conflict and polarisation of society (as evidenced by extreme views during the Covid pandemic). With respect to information on health, Cochrane offers a systematic and transparent process based entirely on evidence (as well as values and preferences) and points the way towards reducing uncertainty and improving health outcomes.
Cochrane offers the chance to get involved with groups that offer support, help and advice to those interested in evidence-based systematic reviews in the field of medicine. There is a strong sense of collegiality and fairness, encouragement to continually improve and inspiration in the work required. The strong backup of volunteers underscores the importance of the vision.
"We would like to offer our heartfelt congratulations to Anne Lethaby on receiving a well deserved lifetime membership award. We nominated Anne as she has worked with Cochrane for over 25 years and during this time has made an extraordinary contribution to Cochrane as a whole. She has authored 32 Cochrane reviews for 11 different Cochrane review groups and has been an editor for both the Sexually Transmitted Infections group and the Cochrane Gynaecology and Fertility group. Anne is also a talented and engaging teacher and has taken part in many workshop teaching systematic reviewer methodology. She is also a peer reviewer for four groups and in recent years has also helped out centrally by conducting copy editing for the Cochrane editorial unit. Anne’s contributions, as many and as varied as they are, are always of the highest quality. She is always generous with her time and expertise to anyone she comes into contact with and we feel she exemplifies the principles of Cochrane."
Assoc Prof Vanessa Jordan and Prof Cindy Farquhar
Tuesday, July 25, 2023