Winner of Thomas C Chalmers Award 2019 for Best Oral Presentation - Dena Zeraatkar

Posted by Froeks Kamminga (Methods Liaison Officer) on 8 January 2020

The Thomas C Chalmers MD Award Committee 2019 (Co-Chaired by Ian Saldanha and Matt Page with full committee membership at the end of the post) wishes to extend its congratulations to this year’s winner for best Oral presentation, Dena Zeraatkar.

Background to the Thomas C Chalmers Award

The Thomas C Chalmers Award is awarded to the principal author of the best Oral and the best Poster presentation addressing methodological issues related to systematic reviews. 

Tom Chalmers (1917-1995) was an outspoken advocate of randomised trials, whether at the bedside, at professional meetings, in class or in situations pertaining to his own life. His creativity spanned his entire career, influencing clinicians and methodologists alike. In arguably his most important work, Tom and his colleagues showed that, had information from RCTs been systematically and cumulatively synthesised, important treatments such as thrombolytic therapy for myocardial infarction would have been recognised as useful much earlier.

In 2019, the Virtual Colloquium made the process a bit different to previous years, but the Committee had the pleasure to assess and score an interesting range of oral presentations and posters.

2019 Oral presentation winner - Dena Zeraatkar

Froeks Kamminga, Methods Liaison Officer in the Editorial and Methods Department, caught up with best Oral presentation winner Dena Zeraatkar to find out a little more about her and ask what winning the award meant to her.

Dena is a doctoral candidate in the Health Research Methodology program in the department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact at McMaster University (Canada). Her work centers on evidence synthesis and evaluation in nutrition. She is also a member of the NutriRECS group, an international consortium of nutrition researchers, methodologists, consumers, and clinicians dedicated to developing dietary guidelines that meet internationally accepted standards for trustworthy guideline development. 

When asked why she decided to enter the competition, Dena said she attended the Cochrane Colloquium for the first time in 2018 and was extremely impressed by the work presented by the delegates. “It was an excellent opportunity to learn about methods in evidence synthesis and to expand my network. My colleagues and I subsequently decided to submit two abstracts describing the methodological aspects of our work on a guideline addressing the consumption of red and processed meat.”

What do you take away from winning this award, or what does it mean to you, personally?

“It is an honor to win an award named after the late Dr. Thomas Chalmers, who played a pivotal role in the development of randomized controlled trials and meta-analysis. Also, it is an honor to be recognized by the largest organization dedicated to the promotion of evidence-informed health decision-making. My colleagues and I hope to continue prioritizing rigorous methodology in our work in nutrition and in other areas.”

In terms of the impact of the award on her work, she stated that the award had motivated her and her colleagues to continue their work developing high-quality, trustworthy guidelines in nutrition. She added: “Nutrition is a challenging field to study. It is a positive experience for us to know that others recognize the importance and value of the work we have been doing.” 

Lastly, when asked what her message would be to other researchers considering entering for the Thomas C Chalmers award in 2020, she expressed the hope that other researchers would be equally inspired by the legacies or Dr Chalmers and other individuals on whose work current emerging research builds.

“I am looking forward to seeing what next year's delegates will present at Cochrane 2020 in Toronto!”

You can find Dena’s presentation here:

"A novel approach to evaluate the plausibility of causal relationships from non-randomized studies" .

What does it take?

To be considered eligible, the first author must be an early career investigator, principal author and the presenter at the Colloquium. Eligible oral and poster presentations must demonstrate originality of thought, high quality science, relevance for the advancement of the science of systematic reviews and clarity of presentation.

Could it be you next year?

For further information on other prizes which are awarded at the Colloquium, please visit

Thomas C Chalmers MD Award – Committee 2019


  1. Matthew Page (Bias MG Convenor, Statistics MG, Cochrane Australia)
  2. Ian Saldanha (Cochrane US)


  1. Miranda Cumpston (Cochrane Handbook editor) 
  2. Ruth Garside (QI MG and Information Retrieval MG)
  3. Lotty Hooft (Screening and Diagnosis MG)  
  4. Karsten Juhl Jørgensen (Cochrane Nordic, Director)
  5. Mala Mann (Information Retrieval MG)
  6. Sarah Nevitt (Statistician, CMI and Statistics MG)
  7. Jelena Savovic (Bias MG)
  8. Adrienne Stevens (Rapid Reviews MG Co-convenor, Screening and Diagnosis MG member)
  9. Susan Wieland (Information Retrieval MG)

Pre-Colloquium assessors

  1. Richard Kirubakaran (Statistics MG)
  2. Joey Kwong (Adverse Effects MG)
  3. Mark Simmonds (Statistics MG)