In this instalment of the CIDG 'Meet the Editor' series, we talk with Dr Gerry Davies. He is a physician who learned infectious diseases in South Africa, Thailand, and the UK. His research work spans the development and evaluation of anti-infective agents from preclinical pharmacology to systematic reviews with a particular emphasis on tuberculosis and HIV.
Could you describe where you currently work and what you do there?
I am a Reader in Infection Pharmacology at the University of Liverpool, splitting my time between the Institutes of Infection and Global Health and Translational Medicine. I spend 75% of my time on research and 25% as a clinician, leading locally on tuberculosis, but involved in the care of patients with any kind of infectious disease.
What is a typical day for you?
My working life is very varied since I look after a diverse team of clinicians, laboratory scientists, and statisticians in different places. I usually clock up a lot of distance during the day and my cycle bag is my office.
What prompted you to work in this area?
I have always been interested in how treatment for infectious diseases works and how to improve it. My early experience of research was while I was running a tuberculosis programme in rural South Africa and trying to find better ways to deliver prolonged and arduous treatment for people suffering from tuberculosis. Over the years, my focus has expanded to include the pharmacology and microbiology of treatment, as well as clinical trials and operational aspects.
What are the major challenges that still remain in your field?
Better treatment for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and shorter treatment for drug-sensitive tuberculosis. Our understanding of resistance and persistence during therapy is still quite incomplete.
How did you first hear about Cochrane?
I first saw a Cochrane Review in progress at first hand while working in South Africa in the 1990s. The concept resonated with me but It was only later that I got involved in a review myself.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being involved with Cochrane?
The sense of simplifying everyone's access to clinical evidence, something that was impossible when I was a medical student. Though I got involved in systematic reviews because of my clinical motivation, more recently I have seen how they feed directly into the policy-making processes at the World Health Organization (WHO) and elsewhere.
Who (or what) has been the biggest influence on your career to date?
The people I couldn't cure, either because the right drugs didn't exist or weren't available to them.
Please list three words you would associate with Cochrane.
Objective, authoritative, trustworthy.
What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy playing classical guitar, cycling and running.
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.