Anne Anderson Prize: recognizing the enhancement and visibility of women in Cochrane

Anne Anderson

Kay Dickersin, Director of Cochrane United States highlights the work of Anne Anderson and the Cochrane award celebrated in her name. Kay is a member of the Anne Anderson Award Committee.

The Anne Anderson Award recognizes a female member of Cochrane who has made a significant contribution to the enhancement and visibility of women's participation within Cochrane. The Anne Anderson Award is one of severally prizes awarded annually.

Who was Anne Anderson?
Anne Anderson was a contributor to the stream of thinking and effort that gave birth to evidence-based health care. A clinically qualified reproductive physiologist, Anne had an active interest in women’s health, co-editing the first edition of Women’s Problems in General Practice with Ann McPherson and contributed to Effectiveness and Satisfaction in Antenatal Care (1982), edited by Murray Enkin and Iain Chalmers. She was discussing with Marc Keirse and Iain Chalmers the possibility of co-editing a companion volume on elective birth, however her premature death from breast cancer in 1983 ended her involvement. Anne Anderson was 46 years old when she died. Iain Chalmers, Murray Enkin and Marc Keirse went on to publish Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth (ECPC) in 1989, dedicating the book in part to Anne. ECPC, through its systematic approach to assessing the research literature, is widely acknowledged to have led to development of Cochrane (more about Anne Anderson: Wikipedia).

What’s the goal of the Anne Anderson Award?
The goal of the Anne Anderson Award is to recognize and stimulate individuals contributing to the enhancement of women’s visibility and participation in Cochrane’s leadership. In the footsteps of Anne Anderson, many outstanding women continue to contribute and inspire other women to improve health knowledge for the good of their communities.

Who are some of the past recipients?
2016: Nicky Cullum
2015: Lisa Bero
2014: Elizabeth Waters
2013: Cindy Farquhar
2011: Caroline Crowther

What are the judges looking for?
Recipients will be selected based on emotional and cognitive intelligence, serving as an inspiration to others, evidence of cumulative accomplishment, originality and independence of thought, personal qualities, team building, leadership and mentorship. The nominee’s contribution to or enhancement of women’s visibility within Cochrane, participation in Cochrane and other leadership, and other accomplishments within the context of Cochrane will also be considered in the selection process.

“I am hugely honoured to receive the Anne Anderson Award. To be considered worthy of occupying a list alongside Caroline Crowther, Cindy Farquhar, Liz Waters and Lisa Bero is rather overwhelming (and possibly a clerical error!).  Anne Anderson made an important contribution to evidence-based women’s health and it is wonderful that we are reminded of her through this award.


I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to be involved in Cochrane. My involvement goes back to the late 1980s when Iain Chalmers explained to me that there was a right, and a wrong way to do a review. When he later asked me to bring a nursing perspective to the nascent Cochrane Collaboration I didn’t need asking twice. I think because I am a woman and a nurse I have often felt overwhelmed by the intellects of the people I have met in Cochrane. I know such feelings of inadequacy are shared by a lot of women in science and we need to find ways of overcoming them.  Through Cochrane I have worked alongside many of my heroes, whose writings I learned from before I actually met them, including Cindy Mulrow, Ann Oakley, Lisa Bero and Kay Dickersin (yes I have some male heroes too but they already get lots of publicity!). Cochrane has succeeded in creating an environment in which thousands of people can learn and grow as scientists whilst contributing to the greater good.  It is an organization that has nurtured me and where I have always felt I belonged. I think that is the same for thousands of us and I hope that I have been able to play a small part in that.  On the whole it has been my experience that women and men often behave differently in science – it is a cliché that has some truth at its heart and there is an abundance of evidence that women are less likely to be recognized in awards. What is great about this award is that it recognizes the value of women being visible in science as role models for other women. Of course high quality science is essential but the way we all behave is equally important. Finally, the best thing about the award is that it enables me to help a woman scientist from a low resource setting. I have worked with midwifery colleagues in my department to identify a midwife, based in Malawi, who will update an extremely important childbirth review.  It is a marvelous opportunity and I feel enormously privileged that I have been put in the position of being able to facilitate Cochrane work in this way.”

Dame Nicky Cullum, 2016 winner.

What are the prize recipients awarded?
The 2017 Award recipient will be announced at the Global Evidence Summit, and receives a plaque from Cochrane honouring her contributions. She then designates the cash award of 3000 USD to assist a woman from a low-resource setting with her Cochrane activities, who should eventually provide a brief written report on how the funds have been used.

How does the nomination process work?
Anyone in Cochrane can nominate a past or current active women member of Cochrane. It’s a one-page letter giving examples of their contribution and how they fit the criteria. The call for submissions opens on the 1 April and the deadline is the 30 June 2017.

What would your advice be to anyone considering making a nomination?
This award is just one of Anne Anderson’s legacies and the award recipient each year leaves her legacy by assisting a woman from a low-resource setting to assist with her Cochrane activities. Your nomination can have a ripple effect! We welcome you to nominate a woman in Cochrane who inspires you, especially the quiet achievers who might otherwise not be recognized!

Read more about the Anne Anderson Prize and how to nominate.


June 2, 2017

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