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Meet the Editor: George Rutherford

Thursday, 02 Nov 2017

In this instalment of the CIDG 'Meet the Editor' series, we talk with Professor George Rutherford. He has spent the last 18 years as Coordinating Editor of the Cochrane HIV/AIDS Group prior to its merger with the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group (CIDG). He serves as a consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO) for systematic reviews of antiretroviral treatment and prevention interventions. His reviews focus on the prevention and treatment of HIV.

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

I am the Salvatore Pablo Lucia Professor of Epidemiology, Preventive Medicine, Pediatrics and History,  the Vice Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Head of the Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. I lead a large research group, funded primarily by the U.S. Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) that works mostly on surveillance, monitoring and evaluation, quality improvement and data visualization and use. I also work on guidelines with the WHO.

What is a typical day for you?

200 emails, 1-2 hours of classroom teaching and seminars, 2 hours of meetings and blocks of time devoted to writing and editing (and that’s only when I’m in San Francisco).

What prompted you to work in this area?

My interest began in 1996 when I co-founded the Cochrane Collaborative Review Group on HIV Infection and AIDS, which has subsequently merged with the CIDG.

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

Eventually we will have a vaccine that can be evaluated, but for now, the challenges largely focus on implementing programmes that provide sufficient coverage to assure that 90% of people living with HIV are diagnosed, 90% of those are on antiretroviral therapy and 90% of those are virologically suppressed.

How did you first hear about Cochrane?

The HIV and the Heart Groups arose from a mid-1990s review of the Cochrane portfolio and commissioning of these two new groups. 

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

Being able to see our meticulous work translated into WHO guidelines.

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

I was influenced early on by a talk given by David Sackett on using the Cochrane Library on rounds at the Radcliffe Infirmary.

Please list three words you would associate with Cochrane.

Clear, concise, authoritative.

What do you do in your spare time?

Try to play tennis.



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 Deirdre Walshe (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.