DISTINGUISHED VISITING PROFESSORS

Prof James Thomas is a distinguished visiting professor at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg.

He is the Deputy Director, Evidence-informed Policy and Practice Information and Coordinating (EPPI) Centre University College London (UCL) Social Research Institute. He is a global leader at the interface between 4IR and the societal impact of research. His publication and fundraising records are exemplary. His papers have been cited 82,000 times, putting him on the Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers list for 2021. He has secured over 25 million pounds (R5 billion) in research grants.

James is a global leader in the use of 4IR for evidence synthesis. The software that he developed back in 1995 on his desktop for use in a specific systematic review, is now a large web-based application with over 8000 user accounts. His technical expertise is highly regarded by global funders including the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust, and his software has become an integral part of the UK’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). His contributions to the use of technology for research extend to wider community engagement. He is the co-PI on a large initiative based at the Cochrane Collaboration which aims to bring people and technology together to produce better research.

Prof John Lavis is a distinguished visiting professor at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg.

He holds the Canada Research Chair in Evidence-Informed Health Systems, is Professor in the Department of Health Evidence and Impact, a Member of the Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis, and Associate Member of the Department of Political Science at McMaster University. He is Associate Director of the Michael G. DeGroote Cochrane Canada Centre and also is the Director of the McMaster Health Forum. He co-directs the WHO Collaborating Centre for Evidence-Informed Policy and is co-chair of the WHO-sponsored Evidence-Informed Policy Network (EVIPNet) Global Steering Group.

He is committed to helping policy-makers and stakeholders to: 1) learn how to make decisions based on the best available research evidence; 2) find evidence through the McMaster Health Forum’s own products and the best available sources of pre-appraised, synthesised research evidence (including the Forum’s Health Systems Evidence, and Social Systems Evidence, and the Forum-supported and citizen-targeted McMaster Optimal Aging Portal); 3) spark action through stakeholder dialogues, citizen panels and more; 4) embed supports for evidence-informed decision- making, by institutionalising promising and proven approaches; and 5) evaluate innovations in supporting evidence-informed decision-making.

Prof Sandy Oliver is a distinguished visiting professor at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg.

She is Director of the Social Science Research Unit, and Deputy Director of the EPPI- Centre (Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Coordinating Centre), at UCL Institute of Education, London.

For thirty years, her interests have focused on the interaction between researchers and people making decisions in their professional and personal lives. With this in mind she has been developing methods to collate knowledge from whole bodies of research – systematic reviews – not just single studies. Most recently this has been in the area of international health systems and development where she has conducted systematic reviews and built up a programme of support for research teams conducting reviews elsewhere. She is a member of the Board of the Campbell Collaboration, a Cochrane editor with their Consumers and Communication Review Group, and a member of the Centre for Excellence in Development Impact and Learning. She has been working with the UK Department for International Development, the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research at WHO, and the Research, Evidence and Development Initiative (READ-It)  to strengthen capacity in systematic reviewing in low- and middle-income countries.