Cochrane Policy College Launches at Mason

Posted: September 19, 2011 at 1:04 am, Last Updated: September 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm

By Leah Kerkman Fogarty

Catherine Gallagher, associate professor in Mason’s Department of Criminology, Law and Society, will direct the Cochrane Policy College at Mason. Photo by Alexis Glenn

Mason and the Cochrane Collaboration announce the formation of the Cochrane Collaboration College for Policy beginning this month in Mason’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

The Cochrane Collaboration is an international nonprofit focused on providing unbiased, evidence-based health care research to policymakers, members of the media and the general public.

Through the Cochrane Library, scientists and researchers disseminate summaries, called Cochrane Reviews, of different health care topics, from whether zinc shortens the duration of the common cold to the best treatment interventions for Type II diabetes.

“Cochrane people care deeply that patients should receive the right high-quality health care at the right time and in the right way,” says Nick Royle, CEO of the Cochrane Collaboration. “To achieve this, we need to work closely with health care policymakers, as well as practitioners and patients. We are therefore particularly pleased to be able to partner with Mason in this innovative new initiative.”

Working in conjunction with the U.S. Cochrane Center at Johns Hopkins University, Mason’s Cochrane College will be tailoring the collaboration’s existing resources with an eye on the current health care landscape in the United States. In particular, the new college aims to make available Cochrane-reviewed evidence on patient-centered outcomes to policymakers as they address emerging health care and social policy questions.  The Cochrane College will also collaborate with Mason’s College of Health and Human Services and the School of Public Policy.

“I’d like to welcome the Cochrane Collaboration to Mason,” says Jack Censer, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “Research has been a priority at Mason since we began offering doctoral programs in 1979, and over the past two decades Cochrane has become an independent and authoritative source on health and social policy topics. Together, we look forward to harnessing our strengths to aid in smart decision-making here in the United States.”

Cochrane Policy College staff includes, from left, Jack Chirieleison, director of web and information systems; Joel Censer, research associate; Sheri Van Vranken, business manager; and Adam Dobrin, assistant director. Photo by Alexis Glenn

Catherine Gallagher, director of the Cochrane College at Mason, adds, “This union unites the rigor and independence of Cochrane evidence with Mason’s unmatched commitment to produce and disseminate research that is relevant to public policy.”

Gallagher, who is also an associate professor in Mason’s Department of Criminology, Law and Society, was previously appointed to an advisory committee set up by Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which evaluated the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

“By inserting evidence-based research into the policy dialogue in this country, the Cochrane College hopes to provide the public with information about policies and programs that are safe, effective and cost efficient,” Gallagher says.

Key activities of the newly established Cochrane College will include:

  • Reaching out to elected officials with customized briefings tailored to the issues facing their constituencies.
  • Engaging members of the media to disseminate relevant public health and social policy information.
  • Researching and compiling Cochrane Reviews that respond to the needs of the current U.S. health and social policy landscape.
  • Providing resources to congressional research agencies and member offices, as well as to the general public.

“At Mason, we have always believed in the importance of cross-disciplinary research endeavors,” says associate provost Michelle Marks, who oversees graduate education at Mason. “We’re very excited that this new collaboration will offer our social science, public policy and health care researchers opportunities to synthesize and promote their very important work. From an academic standpoint, it will also afford our graduate students the chance to contribute their own research to the health policy discussion in Washington, D.C., and beyond.”

For more information on the Cochrane College at Mason, visit its website at

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