Plenaries and speakers

speaker banner

The Colloquium is a multi-disciplinary event exchanging ideas about how we best generate, summarize and communicate evidence to inform and change policy and practice worldwide. 

The four plenary sessions will feature regional and international speakers addressing key issues in producing, applying and advocating for evidence. The sessions will highlight that everything Cochrane do is about, and for, patients and other health consumers.

Following each plenary, there will be a number of special sessions that match the plenary theme. These sessions will continue discussions and the exchange of ideas. More details will be available soon.


Michael is the founder of 11Health, the world’s first sensor network company focused on helping patients with long term chronic conditions who are connected to medical bags. He was diagnosed aged 12 with the incurable bowel condition Crohn's Disease. In late 2011 he became the 11th person to undergo a small bowel transplant in the UK at The Churchill Hospital in Oxford. More recently he is a two time cancer survivor. Michael started blogging about his journey and is a published author and patient mentor. He was the Co-Chair of NHS Digital Services User Council & helped implement the first Skype clinics in the UK. In 2015 he was announced as Stanford Medicine X first Patient-in-Residence and is an Executive Board member.

Keynote topic: Are patients the key to successful research outcomes?

Jennifer Johannesen’s son, Owen, had multiple severe disabilities all his life. He died in 2010 at the age of 12.  Jennifer’s experiences as Owen’s caregiver and advocate led her to ask broader questions about disability and society, special education and clinical healthcare practice. Specifically: why do we do what we do, and whom does it serve? Jennifer now writes, lectures and consults on healthcare practice and policy related to patient-centred care, patient engagement, and critical thinking in clinical practice. Jennifer recently earned a Master of Science in Bioethics from Clarkson University (Schenectady NY), and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Keynote topic:  Exploring patient engagement in research through a critical lens

Sue Ziebland is Professor of Medical Sociology and Director of the Health Experiences Research Group (HERG) in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford. Sue’s background is in medical sociology, with increasing focus on qualitative research approaches.  Sue has worked as a researcher in the academic, NHS and voluntary sectors and has published over 180 papers and chapters in social science and health publications.  She was a founding member of the DIPEX (now Healthtalk) project in 1999. HERG specialise in qualitative methods of understanding health experiences and using that understanding for experience-based health information, clinical education and service improvements. 

Keynote title: Understanding and learning from patients' experiences: developing a global perspective

Margaret McCartney is a GP in Glasgow, columnist for the BMJ, and broadcasts for Radio 4's Inside Health. She has written three books, The Patient Paradox, Living with Dying, and The State of Medicine. She has interests in evidence, risk, screening, professionalism and ethics.

Keynote title: 'Everyday annoyances: why is evidence in real life so hard?'

Dr. Victor Montori is Professor of Medicine at Mayo Clinic. He is a practicing endocrinologist, researcher, and author and a recognized expert in evidence-based medicine and shared decision-making. Dr. Montori developed the concept of minimally disruptive medicine and works to advance person-centered care for patients with diabetes and other chronic conditions.

Keynote topic: Caring with evidence, minimally disruptive medicine, shared decision making

Christine L. Borgman, Distinguished Professor and Presidential Chair in Information Studies at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), is the author of more than 250 publications in information studies, computer science, and communication. This includes 'Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World (2015)', from which she will draw material for her talk. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Association for Computing Machinery. At UCLA, she directs the Center for Knowledge Infrastructures with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and other sources. 
Irene Pasquetto is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA, and a research assistant at the UCLA Center for Knowledge Infrastructures and also at the Participation Lab (PartLab) in the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics. Her overarching research interest lies in the analysis of data-centric scientific practices and technologies, especially in relation to science policy-making. With her work, Irene aims at informing the design and implementation of governance models for data and code infrastructures.

Keynote topic: Big Data, Little Data, or No Data? Systematic Reviews in an Age of Open Data

Dr. Ruth Elwood Martin is a family physician who worked in British Columbia (BC)’s provincial correctional centres starting in 1994. In 2000 she initiated a cervical cancer screening pilot inside prison, and later assisted with the HPV primary screening RCT in BC, ‘HPV-FOCAL’. In 2005 she became the Inaugural Director of the UBC Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education (CCPHE), a network of academic, community and prison persons interested in improving the health of individuals in custody, their families and communities. She introduced the unique concept of engaging women in prison, prison staff and academics in participatory health research (PHR) to address concerns raised by the women themselves. Over 200 women became members of the PHR team over three years and their work, which is described in peer-reviewed journal publications and the book, ‘Arresting Hope’, included conducting 16 peer health surveys, hosting 10 health research forums, developing and presenting 46 health educational PowerPoints, writing health advocacy letters and presenting to the local high school.  In 2013, she was co-principal investigator for the “Bonding Through Bars” project, which examined the topic of children born to incarcerated parents, and was an expert witness in the BC Supreme Court case, which ruled that the decision to cancel a provincial correctional facility mother-child unit infringed the constitutional rights of incarcerated mothers and babies.