Meet the CIDG team - Dr Cara Macfarlane

Dr Cara Macfarlane

Research Assistant


Cara Macfarlane is a Research Assistant in Neglected Tropical Diseases Evidence Synthesis, working with CIDG in the Department of Clinical Sciences. She joined the team in March 2017. Cara obtained her BSc in Zoology at the University of Dundee in 2012, and her MRes in crop and insect pest biology from the University of Dundee and the James Hutton Institute in 2013. She first joined the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine in 2013 to undertake her PhD, where she was based in the Parasitology Department. Her research focused on using proteomic and molecular techniques to diagnose onchocerciasis infection.

Cara is currently working with CIDG to update a Cochrane review on the use of albendazole for treating lymphatic filariasis, and is also preparing two complementary systematic reviews on the role of community drug distributors in NTD programs, as is documented in research and in policy. She is also an author for the online BugBitten blog for the Parasites and Vectors community, and a member of STEM.

She assists on LSTM's Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (DTM&H) practical diagnostic sessions in parasitology, as well as assisting in lectures on systematic reviews and evidence synthesis with CIDG.

1. What drew you to CIDG originally?

I had just finished my laboratory-based PhD at LSTM, and was ready for a new and exciting challenge. I had seen several talks over the years by CIDG members, and the research always sounded so interesting and varied. As someone who is detail-orientated, I liked the careful unpicking of the topics.

2. How would you describe your job at CIDG to a child?

If you wanted to know whether prawn cocktail or ready salted was the best flavour crisp for people who like salty food, I would try to put all the information on this in one place and see what flavour works the best.

3. What gets you out of bed on a workday?

The free coffee and snacks, courtesy of my CIDG colleagues!

4. What has been your most exciting achievement with CIDG?

I think my most exciting achievement is yet to come… when I publish my first Cochrane Review! Other achievements have been completing the SEDA teaching course, and lecturing on evidence synthesis for the prestigious LSTM postgraduate courses.

5. What has your experience with CIDG added to your CV?

It has really helped to shape the way I think about and approach scientific research, as well as considerably improving my analytical, statistical and writing skills. Being able to attend training sessions on grading evidence and other methodology workshops has also been very useful and rewarding. I now question everything, and have developed a serious passion for footnotes.

6. Describe your working life with Cochrane using film titles

Groundhog day or Office Space? Just kidding. The X-Files.

7. What is your guilty pleasure?

Peanut butter and salt n vinegar crisp sandwiches.

8. What type of animal do you think would make a good Cochrane Editor?

An octopus, for sure. Our Editor does a million and one things at CIDG and still manages to bake us all cakes!

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.