'Meet the Editor' - Joseph Okebe

In the fourth installment of our 'Meet the Editor' series, we interview Dr Joseph Okebe.

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

I work as a clinical epidemiologist at the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia. The Unit has a large research portfolio that includes diseases of public health importance in developing countries. My research activities include large epidemiological studies assessing burden of disease to clinical trials (individual or cluster randomized) testing or assessing the effectiveness of new public health interventions.

What is a typical day for you?

My work day is typically in two parts: the first part of the day is spent on meetings with the study team or collaborators mostly for research or operations planning and this is followed by a quieter second part focused on reading and writing the next manuscript or grant.

What prompted you to work in this area?

As a resident in paediatrics, I became interested in the basis for guidelines that support clinical practice because I realised that treatment protocols had lines of management that was difficult to implement in our work setting. This created a disconnect between what was taught and practiced. So I ventured off into research to understand how the research question if framed and developed through to results.

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

The application of research findings does not always take into account the heterogeneous distribution of disease in developing countries. However, as the burden of many diseases decline, important differences in the effect of interventions are emerging. I believe the next big challenge is the “when and how” to adapt interventions for maximal impact.

How did you first hear about Cochrane?

I first heard about Cochrane 14 years ago when looking for protocols for treatment of Burkitt’s lymphoma as a resident in paediatrics. My teacher/mentor had a CD version of the Cochrane Library, which he allowed me to use for a presentation. I was amazed at how much information that was out there and the dedication of people to provide research evidence in a clear concise and accessible format.

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

Being able to contribute to global health by putting the evidence out there.

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

I am very fortunate to have had managers in Nigeria and The Gambia that believed in me and not just challenged me but gave me the opportunity to express myself.

Please list three words you would associate with Cochrane. 

Evidence, opportunity, collaboration.

What do you do in your spare time?

I love sports and I love to try out new things; games and food.