Meet our Members Series: A Q&A with Dr. Cathy Yuan

Dr. Cathy Yuan was a Gastroenterologist and a lecturer in Sun Yet-sen University of Medical Science in Guangzhou, P.R. China, with an MD, an MSc and a PhD degree. In 2001, Cathy immigrated to Canada, where she pursued her second Master’s degree in Clinical Epidemiology at McMaster University. Since then, she has been working as a research associate and a health research methodologist in the Department of Medicine at McMaster, in addition to serving as an information specialist with Cochrane Gut.


How did you first come to learn about Cochrane? Why did you choose to volunteer/work with the organization?

I first learned about Cochrane during my postdoctoral training at McMaster University. My training focused on systematic reviews and meta-analyses of GI diseases, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews was the leading resource for systematic reviews in health care. It was during this time that I learned how to perform rigorous systematic reviews using Cochrane training materials. A few years later, I began my second Master’s degree in Clinical Epidemiology at McMaster and, following graduation, I published the core contents of my thesis as a Cochrane review. Since then, I have co-authored different Cochrane reviews and served as a peer reviewer for Cochrane.

What is your professional background and how does it lend itself to your current role with Cochrane Gut?

Before I immigrated to Canada, I was a Gastroenterologist. Since arriving in Canada, I have received research methodology training from McMaster, where I continue to work as a research associate and health research methodologist. With my medical background, combined with the training I received from Cochrane, I have built up and improved my literature search, and evidence appraisal and synthesis skills. Equipped with these highly sought-after skills, I landed a role with the Cochrane Upper GI and Pancreatic Diseases (UGPD) Review Group, now Cochrane Gut, as its information specialist. I also work as a managing editor for Cochrane Gut, and I continue to train Cochrane authors from across the organization.

As a member of Cochrane, what are you most proud of accomplishing?

It is so amazing that Cochrane provides different types of high-quality, independent evidence to inform health care decision-making. Cochrane is a truly global, independent network with more than 35,000 members and supporters worldwide, and I am proud to play a role in such a great community. I have helped train a lot of Cochrane authors and young researchers around the world, and I have contributed to more than one hundred Cochrane reviews at different stages of their production; many of them have been published, some were even cited in clinical practice guidelines, and all of them contributed directly or indirectly to promoting better health.

Is there a Cochrane-related initiative you are currently working on, or something you have planned for the future, that you would like our colleagues across the organization to know about?

I will remain an active member with Cochrane as long as I am able to, and I will contribute my skills when and where I am needed, either as an author, a peer reviewer, an information specialist or a managing editor.

Finally, do have any advice or words of encouragement for people thinking about joining Cochrane’s membership here in Canada or around the world?

Cochrane is for everyone - doctors, nurses, patient and caregivers, researchers, students, funders, and policymakers. As a Cochrane member, you will contribute to the improvement of health outcomes for everyone, everywhere.