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'Meet the Editor': Dr Lawrence Mbuagbaw

Monday, 17 Oct 2016

In the sixth instalment of the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group (CIDG) 'Meet the Editor' series, we interview Dr Lawrence Mbuagbaw.

Could you describe where you currently work and what you do there?

I work in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Canada, but my office is based in the Biostatistics Unit of St Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. I teach research methods to graduate students in our public health, research methodology, and postgraduate diploma programmes.

I provide support for design, analysis, and reporting of medical research for researchers at St Joseph’s Healthcare and McMaster University. 

What is a typical day for you?

My day typically revolves around a to-do list that could include: data analysis, manuscript writing, consulting (for research methods), meetings, teleconferences, in class or online teaching, grant writing, and working with students. The things I do almost every day are dropping the kids at school, heading to work (McMaster or St Joe’s), and doing some form of exercise towards the end of the day. Some days are very hectic and others not so much.

What prompted you to work in this area?

As a medical student and a general practitioner in Cameroon, I had a lot of questions regarding how medical research was conducted and why we would choose one medication over another or one procedure over another. The answers were never obvious and hardly backed by hard data. I developed a strong interest in designing research to answer pertinent health research questions, but choose to focus primarily of the conditions that plague people in resource-limited settings: HIV, weak health systems, and materno-foetal health issues.

What are the major challenges that still remain in your field?

I think the main challenge is the great divide between clinical practice and evidence. There is a lot to be done in terms of designing, conducting, and reporting research that can readily be incorporated in clinical practice.

How did you first hear about Cochrane?

In 2008, I was leading a HIV clinic in Cameroon. I got into a conversation with a senior colleague about the relative merits of efavirenz and nevirapine. He told me I could do a systematic review to resolve the issue and put me in touch with the South African Cochrane Centre. I was lucky to secure a Reviews for Africa Programme fellowship and completed my first Cochrane Review shortly after. Since then I have completed many other reviews and now mentor first-time authors.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being involved with Cochrane?

The ability to connect with like-minded people.

Who (or what) has been the biggest influence on your career to date?

My career has been influenced by many people and many events. 

Please list three words you would associate with Cochrane.

Evidence, networking, support

What do you do in your spare time?

I jog, play football, read novels and comic books, watch TV, play video games, and then wander around the house looking for things to fix.


The CIDG editorial base is located at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in Liverpool, UK. The CIDG is led by Professor Paul Garner (Co-ordinating Editor) and Anne-Marie Stephani (Managing Editor). Over 600 authors from some 52 countries contribute to the preparation of the Cochrane Reviews. They are supported by an international team of Editors, each with topic or methodological expertise. 

The CIDG’s main areas of work are on determination of the effects of interventions on the prevention or treatment infectious diseases of relevance to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and neglected tropical diseases. The aims of the CIDG are to impact on policy and research in tropical diseases through the production of high quality and relevant systematic reviews, and to lead developments in review quality improvement and effective dissemination of findings.

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