Chris Silagy 2022 Prize Winners - Gail Quinn and Clare Jess

Gail Quinn and Clare Jess

"We are both thrilled and honoured to receive the 2022 Chris Silagy Prize.  We have witnessed this prize being awarded numerous times over the past 18 years and the fact that it is given to recognise extraordinary contributions within Cochrane is a gesture which resonates with us both and is a wonderful reflection on Chris Silagy himself. Unfortunately we never had the opportunity to meet or work with Chris but one of the aspects that makes this award so special is the association our first Co-ordinating Editor, Chris Williams, had with him.  We have enjoyed hearing him share memories of the time they worked together during the very early days of the Cochrane Collaboration when our Group was established.

We have had an extraordinary journey during our years with Cochrane and it is the people who we have met and worked with during this time which has made it so.  Our close Group colleagues – Jo Morrison, Robin Grant, Mike Hart, our past Co-ordinating Editor Chris Williams, Jo Platt and Tracey Harrison as well as all our national and international friends, colleagues and author teams have made the years working with our Group so rewarding both professionally and personally.  

It has been more than a job in many ways and in the true spirit of collaboration always a team effort. This honour comes at a poignant time when significant change lies ahead for our Group as well as many other CRGs so with this in mind we would like to dedicate its wonderful sentiment to all of our Cochrane colleagues.  In particular, our Managing Editor colleagues with whom we have not only shared so much regarding our day-to-day work but have also enjoyed lots of fun times together, ensuring incredibly happy memories for life.

We would also like to acknowledge Chris’ family and supporters for ensuring this important prize continues in his memory.

Thank you, once again, from both of us."

Gail Quinn and Clare Jess, 2022 Chris Silagy Prize winners

We asked Sally Green, Chris Silagy Prize Committee Chair what made Gail and Clare such a worthy winners this year
Clare Jess and Gail Quinn are joint Managing Editors for the Gynaecological, neuro-oncology and Orphan Cancer Cochrane review group. Clare and Gail started as Managing Editors in January 2004, and have been a longstanding fabulous team and the beating heart of the Group. Both Clare and Gail have been involved in Cochrane at an international level, representing and co-chairing the Managing Editors executive group and Cochrane Council between them. Clare joined the Managing Editors exec in Jan 2016, and was Co-convenor from April 2020 to Dec 2021. Gail has been on Council since its inception in 2017. Both Gail and Clare have been champions of Cochrane and their Managing Editor constituency, and have made an extraordinary contribution to Cochrane.

Chris Silagy

We also asked Sally some questions about the Chris Silagy Prize, which is awarded to an individual who has made an "extraordinary" contribution to the work of Cochrane which would not be recognized outside the scope of this prize. The Chis Silagy Prize is one of several prizes awarded annually at the colloquium.

Can you talk about your relationship with Chris Silagy? In your view, what impact did he have on Cochrane?
Chris was the foundation Director of the (then) Australasian Cochrane Centre. While Chris was on Fellowship in Oxford, Iain Chalmers recognized his potential to lead Cochrane in Australia on his return home, and together they helped to establish the Cochrane Australia in 1994. At this time it was based in Adelaide, with Philippa as Assistant Director. When the Centre moved to Melbourne, Chris recruited Sally and Steve McDonald to help build the presence at Monash. Sally had met Philippa and Chris as the first Australian Cochrane Fellow during a blistering 40-degree week in Adelaide in 1999.

Chris had an enormous and positive impact on the Cochrane Collaboration. He was Chair of the Steering Group from 1996 to 1998, and put together Cochrane’s first strategic plan. He had immeasurable energy (we used to call him the tornado) and a talent for fostering success in others.

Why did Chris feel it was important for this fund to be set up?
Chris had long advocated that Cochrane’s success was due largely to the efforts, altruism and collaborative outlook of many people, often working in under-recognized roles. When he died of lymphoma in 2001, aged 41, Chris requested a fund be established to recognize and reward these individuals, and so the Chris Silagy Prize was established.

Lisa Bero, Cindy Mulrow, Chris Silagy and Alex Jadad, 1997

Why is this Prize so important to the work of Cochrane?
The inaugural Prize, awarded in Stavanger in 2002, exemplified Chris’s intentions when Jini Hetherington became the first recipient of the Chris Silagy Prize. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. We love the Chris Silagy Prize not only as it remembers our friend Chris, but because it also provides a way of celebrating the special characteristics of the people who have been recipients. There is nothing else like it.

We believe Chris would have been absolutely delighted to see the way Cochrane has developed and grown, and would have joined us in celebrating all of the individuals who have been awarded the Prize over the past 14 years (see here for list).

Even if you didn’t know Chris Silagy, we are sure all would agree that it remains important to celebrate the attributes and efforts of those who contribute to Cochrane in these special ways.

What were the judges looking for?
The selection panel is made up of Prize recipients. The criteria against which nominees are scored are:

  • making an extraordinary contribution to Cochrane;
  • making a contribution that exceeds the expectations of their employment;
  • making a contribution to Cochrane that would not be recognised outside the scope of this Prize;
  • identified by their peers as consistently contributing to a spirit of collaboration.

What are prize recipients awarded?
Chris Silagy Prize recipients are awarded $AUD 1000 from a memorial fund held by Monash University. In addition, they receive a certificate, and Cochrane meets expenses associated with them attending the next Colloquium. The Prize is awarded at the Colloquium each year.

Chris Silagy, 1998

For more information on The Chris Silagy Prize see here.

3 November 2022