CIDG end of year message

As another year draws to a close, the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group (CIDG) editorial base in Liverpool is grateful to its readers, authors, referees, and editors for their contributions to the CIDG’s work during 2018. 

Here we reflect on the CIDG’s achievements, changes, and plans as we enter 2019.


We are delighted to confirm that, as part of the Research, Evidence and Development Initiative (READ-It), we have secured a UK Department for International Development (DFID) programme grant for the next six years. The three grant holders are Paul Garner, Taryn Young, and Paula Waugh. The grant reflects the high standing our work has with UK aid, and this is a product of the work of our fantastic editorial team, CIDG Editors, authors, and contributors. We are currently in the initiation phase of this grant and are actively planning the new programme with teams and working on priority setting for reviews.

Impact Factor

Our (unofficial) CIDG impact factor is 9.5! Each year in June, Clarivate Analytics publish the Journal Impact Factors of all journals indexed in the Journal Citation Report. The 2017 Impact Factor for the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) is 6.754, which describes the ratio of the number of reviews published during 2015 and 2016 (1,764) to the number of citations these reviews received in 2017 (11,914). The unofficial 2017 CRG Impact Factor for the Infectious Diseases Group is 9.500 (26 publications cited 247 times). This is great news for the CIDG and justifies our strategy set some years ago to concentrate on only high-impact reviews.

Cochrane Public Health and Health Systems Network

We are part of the Cochrane Public Health and Health Systems Network! Cochrane has created eight new Networks of Cochrane Review Groups (CRGs) responsible for the efficient and timely production of high-quality systematic reviews that address the research questions that are most important to decision makers. The CIDG is part of the Cochrane Public Health and Health Systems Network, and its aim is to support and help coordinate the work across multiple Cochrane Review Groups dealing with similar topics in the field of public health. Further details about this Network are available here, including the 2-year Network strategic plan.

CIDG editorial team

At the CIDG editorial base we are committed to creating a positive working environment by recruiting and developing excellent staff. We work to ensure equality, diversity, and inclusion across the organization; to develop the leadership and management capabilities of our staff; and to actively support staff engagement and well-being. We have had (and still have!) fantastic staff working with us and are totally lost without them!

Rachael Milligan was part of an author team for a CIDG review update on vaccines for typhoid fever that was used by the World Health Organization (WHO) in their recent updated guidance in this area. She is also working on a review on radical cure of Plasmodium vivax malaria and was part of a small team looking into evidence-based guidelines in refugee camps. Rachael was also involved in co-ordinating the postgraduate teaching that CIDG is involved in, both on the Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and the MSc module Systematic Reviews for Policy and Practice. In June, she was awarded the Best on Brightspace Award by LSTM’s TEL Team after students voted her module, ‘TROP973 Systematic Review for Policy and Practice’ the best on the platform for its “beautiful and simple organisation” making its navigation straightforward and informative for post teaching refection and assignments. Paul Garner and Rachael were participants at the ‘Evidence Week in Parliament’ organized by Sense about Science at the House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, London, 25 June 2018Rachael continues to work clinically part-time both as a GP in Liverpool and also as a medical advisor at the Well Travelled Clinic at LSTM.

Sam Johnson has returned to full-time clinical work. During his time at the CIDG he worked on Cochrane Reviews in HIV and malaria for WHO guideline panels and contributed to reviews in TB vaccine development and mass drug administration in lymphatic filariasis.  He also had the privilege of working closely with the WHO guideline review committee secretariat contributing to the day-to-day work of assuring the quality and rigour of guidance issued by WHO and doing research into guideline development methods.
Joe Pryce worked on several novel and updating existing systematic reviews that assess the impacts of a range of vector-control interventions on malaria transmission. These reviews have been used to help develop the first formal WHO malaria vector control guidelines. He has also contributed to reviews that assess the safety and effectiveness of treatments for malaria and other parasitic diseases. He is currently undertaking a PhD at LSTM, looking at novel tools for the surveillance of vector-borne disease in elimination settings. 
Harriet Blundell has an interest in humanitarian aid work and worked on developing clinical guidance for the management of common medical conditions affecting refugees living in temporary settlements. She is now based on the Isle of Man, having returned to full-time clinical work.
Cara Macfarlane worked with the CIDG on several systematic reviews, including an update of a Cochrane Review on albendazole for treating lymphatic filariasis, which will soon be published on the Cochrane Library.

Paul Hine is a Registrar in Infectious Diseases and General Internal Medicine, training in the Mersey Deanery. He worked with the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group from December 2017 to July 2018, and worked on reviews in malaria treatment and HIV drug adherence, amongst other topics.
Leslie Choi currently works in the Partnership for Increasing the Impact of Vector Control (PIIVeC) in collaboration with the CIDG. His PhD is on entomological data requirements for decision-making. At the CIDG he has worked on several novel reviews that assess the impacts of a range of vector-control interventions on malaria transmission. These reviews have helped develop the first formal WHO malaria vector control guidelines.
Joanna Furnival-Adams joined in November 2018 as a research assistant. Her work focuses on producing novel and update existing reviews to assess the evidence for malaria vector control interventions.
Vittoria Lutje, CIDG Information Specialist, continues to provide invaluable assistance with literature searches and systematic reviews. In 2018, Anel Schoonees based at the Centre for Evidence Based Health Care (CEBHC) in South Africa has also joined as an Information Specialist, assisting with the HIV portfolio of reviews.
Marty Richardson provides statistical support two days a week for CIDG, which involves acting as co-author for systematic reviews with meta-analysis, undertaking research into review methodology and completing peer reviews.

Paul Garner (Co-ordinating Editor), Dee Walshe (Managing Editor), Philomena  Hinds (Editorial Assistant), and Christianne Esparza (Administration Assistant) complete the CIDG team and will be interviewed in the 2019 ‘Meet the CIDG staff’ feature. We are also indebted to the CIDG Editors and Specialist Advisors for their invaluable contributions.

We look forward to welcoming new team members in 2019!

What reviews have we published?

This year, the CIDG has published 12 new reviews, 7 review updates, and 12 protocols. Further details are listed below: simply click on the title to access the full-text article.

New Reviews

Updated Reviews


We will have plenty of exciting reviews that you can look forward to reading in 2019!

Highlights of 2018

  • Malaria vector control guidelines

The WHO Global Malaria Programme (WHO GMP), which has worked with the CIDG for 15 years, has recently teamed up with the Entomology & Vector Control Unit (EVCU) at the WHO GMP to help ensure vector control guidelines are more in line with current evidence-informed scientific approaches. The CIDG were asked to assist, given their recognized excellence in the methods of evidence synthesis and knowledge in malaria. A whole suite of reviews were prepared using Cochrane methods on topics including: indoor residual spraying added to ITNs; insecticide space spraying; piperonyl butoxide (PBO) nets’ effectiveness in the presence of insecticide resistance; and an update of existing Cochrane reviews on larviciding and the use of larvivorous fish. In addition, the original 2004 ITN review was updated using advanced GRADE methods for assessing the certainty of the evidence. The young research team, Joseph Pryce and Leslie Choi, along with CIDG statistician Marty Richardson, used innovative methods to estimate confidence intervals for the space spraying review. This is the first time this has been achieved with a disease that showed seasonality in interrupted time series analysis designs. The initial suite of seven Cochrane reviews underpin the first edition of the WHO malaria vector control guidelines to be published in 2019.

  • Three Cochrane reviews on cryptococcal meningitis formed part of the WHO Guidelines published in March 2018. The contribution of the Cochrane work to the guideline development is outlined in a published Cochrane Editorial.
  • A Cochrane review on treatment of Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever has been published, which will form part of a WHO guideline yet to be released. Read more here.
  • One Cochrane review update of typhoid vaccine was updated as part of the new WHO Guideline for typhoid vaccine.
  • One Cochrane diagnostic test accuracy review of use of Gene Xpert® for diagnosing extrapulmonary tuberculosis was published. This review arose out of our work with the Revised National Tuberculosis (TB) Control Programme in India. This is a large review and summarizes the use of this test for every category of extrapulmonary TB. Read the LSTM news story here.
  • Primaquine for reducing Plasmodium falciparum transmission: this review update incorporated new studies stimulated by our earlier edition, showing a small, probably unimportant effect on malaria transmission, and is contributing to debates on whether this impacts on malaria control. Read the LSTM news story here.

Meet the CIDG Editors and Authors

Continuing the CIDG ‘Meet the Editor’ series, we interviewed CIDG Editor Ingrid Eshun-Wilson. Also, we expanded the series so readers met CIDG Statistician, Marty Richardson, CIDG Research Assistant Leslie Choi, and former CIDG editorial team members Rachael Milligan, Sam Johnson, Harriet Blundell, Paul Hine, Joe Pryce, and Cara Macfarlane.

Visitors/Visiting Fellows

During 2018 we welcomed several visitors to the CIDG editorial base.

Sally Green, who visited us in March, is Co-Director of the Cochrane Australia and a Professorial Fellow in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University. She holds a PhD in Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine from Monash University in addition to her clinical qualifications in Physiotherapy. Sally is an active Cochrane reviewer and has several competitively funded research projects which aim to improve health outcomes by investigating the most effective and efficient pathway of knowledge from research result to sustained change in clinical practice and policy. Professor Green is a member of the NHMRC's Synthesis and Translation of Research (STORE) Committee.

Monica Shah is a malaria epidemiologist at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, Georgia, USA. She is currently updating the ‘Mass drug administration for malaria’ review and spent two weeks in June at the editorial base. Read her Visiting Fellow report here.
Vanesa Anton-Vazquez is Clinical Research Fellow and MD at St George’s University of London, visited in June. She is lead author on the Cochrane protocol, ‘Rapid susceptibility testing for treating bloodstream infections’.
Iman El Sayed (pictured left), Assistant Professor from Alexandria University, Egypt, visited between February and March to work on the Cochrane Review Update, ‘Antibiotics for treating scrub typhus’. This was published in September 2018.
Praveen Weeratunga (pictured left), lead author on the Cochrane Review ‘Control methods for Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti’, visited for 2 weeks in November 2018. During his time at the CIDG editorial base Praveen was provided with expert guidance and mentorship from the team to enable him to complete his review.

 Speakers at LSTM

Deborah Cohen is an award-winning medically qualified TV, print and radio reporter (i.e. BBC Radio 4's File on Four), as well as being an editor on The BMJ. She has investigated and produced documentaries about drug companies and academic institutions manipulation of the evidence, ranging from pandemic flu “conspiracies”, Roche withholding oseltamivir data, and the “pick and mix” approach animal researchers take in publishing their studies. Watch her seminar ‘Investigative journalism in global infectious diseases research’ here.

Tracey Brown is the Director of Sense about Science. Under her leadership, the charity has turned the case for sound science and evidence into popular campaigns to urge scientific thinking among the public and the people who answer to them. It has launched important initiatives including AllTrials, a global campaign for the reporting of all clinical trial outcomes; and the Ask for Evidence campaign, which engages the public in requesting evidence for claims. In June 2017 Tracey was made an OBE for services to science. Watch her seminar ‘Evidence and expertise: we don’t live in a post-truth society and here’s why’ here.


The CIDG editorial base will close from 5pm on Wednesday 19th December and will re-open on Wednesday 2nd January 2019.

Best wishes from the CIDG editorial team.