Engage in conversations with living 'books' at #CochraneLondon's Library of People

On Wednesday, September 6th, during the lunch break, join us for the #CochraneLondon Library of People, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Level 1, Pickwick.

This event offers a unique opportunity to engage in conversations with human 'books,' who possess rich life experiences to share. This informal and enjoyable setup offers a refreshing way to connect with others and gain fresh viewpoints.

At the Library of People, you can "borrow" individuals as if they were open books, delving into their narratives and have conversations about subjects that intrigue you. These interactions will take place within small groups, enabling meaningful discussions. Each "book" will come with a list of suggested questions to facilitate the conversation's outset. 

The Cochrane Book Club members will be your "Librarians," guiding you in the selection and discovery of your ideal "book". You'll encounter a rich variety of "books," representing diverse nationalities, various career stages, roles within the Cochrane community, and personal passions.

Mentee to Mentor - crossing continents

Omolola Alade 

15,000km southeast of home (Ibadan, Nigeria) I was first introduced to evidence synthesis during a graduate course on Epidemiology at the University of Sydney, Australia. I struggled with homesickness, but distracted myself by interpreting forest plots and critical appraisals of systematic reviews.

Several years later, this time 10,000km northwest of home, having mastered homesickness, I became a mentee of the US Cochrane network. Working with mentors moved me from my distant, hesitant interest to being an active contributor to evidence synthesis. Now I am leading a research project, with seven other mentees, on equity considerations in mentoring programs for evidence synthesis.

Back home in Nigeria, I am part of an inaugural collaborative initiative between my faculty and the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research to conduct several systematic reviews on oral health. I am also a mentor to the next generation of oral health researchers in evidence synthesis, mentoring three researchers in the first cohort of the National Oral Health for Development programme of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research. So, as you can see I have gone from mentee to mentor as I have travelled the world.

Translating best evidence to support disaster settings - Evidence Aid (born in Cochrane in 2004)

Claire Allen

Like many others I sat transfixed by the dreadful events which unfolded on 26 December 2004 in the wake of the Indian ocean earthquake and tsunami. Like many others, I had no idea what we as a society, or indeed Cochrane (which I’d worked with since 1997), could do, apart from giving money. Thankfully Mike Clarke who was Chair of the Board of Trustees in Cochrane and other colleagues had the inspired idea that as an organisation, Cochrane was perfectly placed to provide robust information to help those who were supporting the relief effort in making their decisions. And, boom, Evidence Aid was born. I jumped ship from Cochrane to Evidence Aid formally in 2014. From then, Evidence Aid became an independent charity, working with many organisations such as Save the Children, the Pan American Health Organization, the World Health Organization and we were at the forefront of the information provision when the recent Covid pandemic hit the world, starting our efforts in February 2020, before lockdowns were started.

My experience as an early career professional and Cochrane

Ana Beatriz Pizarro

I am a 25-year-old early career registered nurse hailing from a small town in the north of Colombia. As a first-generation college student, I take immense pride in being the youngest editorial board member representing The Early Career Professionals Group. My passion for evidence-based healthcare is reflected in my extensive work, having published over 30 systematic reviews.

My primary goal is to improve lives in the Global South through multidisciplinary approaches, understanding specific health-disease problems, their impact, and potential applications in public health.

Beyond my professional pursuits, diverse interests add colour to my life, including singing, playing the ukulele, watching films, and finding joy in going to the beach and outdoor running.

I believe in the power of stories and have experienced their impact firsthand in my life. As a 'book' in the #CochraneLondon Library of People, I am eager to engage in conversations and share my life experiences, professional insights, and personal interests.

What have Hogwarts and Sherlock Holmes got to do with teaching EBM?

Maria Björklund

I am a librarian at Cochrane Sweden who loves to read. Fantasy and detective stories are my favourite genres and I always enjoy how libraries and librarians are represented in fantasy and detective fiction!  I also am drawn in by how a mystery unfolds and you pick up clues and evidence (of course!) along the way and try to solve the crime or mystery yourself while reading.

I teach evidence-based medicine and refer to Sherlock Holmes and fictional libraries (like Hogwarts) when I am helping students understand evidence-based medicine and systematic data retrieval - it is a successful and engaging tactic.

 So, my reading preferences are sometimes also reflected in my professional work, and I think it is a nice way of engaging students in evidence- based medicine.

A life-changing treatment decision: hope, fear and a bit of evidence?

Sarah Chapman

I’ve had progressive hearing loss throughout my adult life and had got to the point where I was struggling to hear, despite hearing aids. In 2021, I was offered a potentially life-changing treatment, a cochlear implant. This would involve surgery and an irreversible process in which the ‘normal’ mechanism of hearing would be destroyed. People meeting the criteria for a cochlear implant are likely to benefit, but outcomes aren’t guaranteed and whether, how much, and in what ways I would benefit were uncertain. I learned first-hand that how we make treatment decisions in our real, messy lives doesn’t necessarily fit the neat models we see when we read about evidence-based decision-making.

Wikipedia: the world largest encyclopaedia - friend or foe?

Jennifer Dawson

Communicating and sharing high-quality and reliable evidence informed information is a passion of mine. I have been working with Cochrane as our Wikipedian-in-Residence since 2016. The viewership of medical articles on English-language Wikipedia alone surpasses 2 billion page views per year and there are about 40,000 articles that relate to human health. 

In 2021, viewership of the main Wikipedia COVID-19-related article was over 500,000 views a month, far more than most of the other sources of information on the internet. Medical content is also available in over 280 languages. 

When I tell colleagues in my field that I help improve medical articles on Wikipedia, I usually get all sorts of interesting questions (and sometimes funny looks)! Why should we be considering Wikipedia? Do you recommend Wikipedia as a resource for people with questions about their health? How hard is it to edit Wikipedia? Many people in medical and evidence-based medicine fields find Wikipedia very frustrating. They are not wrong! There are many, many, articles that need improving and many that share incorrect, missing, or outdated information. It can be hard to jump in as a new editor and navigate conflict of interest and work with a very keen volunteer community of often anonymous editors. Rather than dismiss the ‘World’s Largest Encyclopedia’, why not learn more and potentially help improve what people are accessing!

Careless comms costs lives: battling misinformation on statins

Harry Dayantis

There are few scientific topics as needlessly controversial as statins. These cholesterol-lowering drugs are prescribed to millions of people worldwide and have underdone countless trials evaluating their benefits and risks. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that they reduce the risk of heart disease. So why do people get so worked up about them, and why do I care?

I care because my father died of a sudden heart attack overnight when I was at university. He was 49 years old and held national records for long-distance running. The post-mortem revealed that he had heart disease, and he might still be alive today if he’d been diagnosed and treated with statins. The risk has a significant genetic component, and I now take statins myself.

I’ve been involved in communicating many research papers on statins over the past decade, at UCL and Oxford University. I’ve worked with cardiologists and researchers to share the real evidence on statins in an often hostile media environment. It’s important that benefits and harms are communicated accurately so that people can make informed decisions; there is evidence that media scare stories have prevented many people from taking statins, potentially costing thousands of lives.

Accessibility at conferences shouldn’t just be a tick box

Emily Messina

Attending or presenting at conferences is often an essential aspect of academic careers. We can share research and network, but let’s be honest, how many of us are mentally exhausted just planning to attend a conference, let alone after its over? Despite the fact that many of us, around 20%, are D/deaf, hard-of-hearing, disabled, and/or neurodivergent, we continue to leave accessibility as an afterthought. We strain to read slides or posters with tiny print, struggle with noise and sensory overload in crowded poster halls, forced to spend energy hunting for accessible paths through the conference space, and miss information that is only presented orally. Aren’t we tired of bare knuckling our way through conferences? Without creating content that's accessible, how can we have our science received, understood, and (importantly) acted on. So, let’s talk, share our experiences, and we can learn from each other better ways to improve accessibility and share our research more effectively.

Storytelling to break down boundaries

Wanjiru Mwangi

Step into my world of communications and let me take you on an exciting journey about storytelling and the boundaries it breaks. Since time immemorial, storytelling has been a fundamental part of human connection. And in research, it has helped transcend the rigid confines of data and facts, transforming them into narratives that resonate with human emotions and experiences. Not by distorting truths or oversimplifying the complexities of research, but by transforming the most complex ideas into accessible information for those who truly need or yearn to grasp it. As you read through this, try and imagine the power of a personal story, a memory that resonates deeply, or a song that touches your heart. These diverse mediums of storytelling can foster deeper connections between researchers and their audience, leading to a more informed and enlightened public. So come chat with me, Wanjiru, a communications expert in both internal and external communications.