Commissioners and secretariat

The Evidence Commission’s independent panel of commissioners bring diverse points of view to creating a report that speaks to, and to pursuing pathways to influence that will spur action among, the many different types of people who make or can influence decisions about whether and how evidence is used to address societal challenges. They bring powerfully complementary perspectives, ranging across most types of societal challenges (and Sustainable Development Goals), all types of decision-makers (government policymakers, organizational leaders, professionals and citizens), and all major forms of evidence. See the Commissioner terms of reference below. 

The secretariat for the Evidence Commission is housed at the McMaster Health Forum, known for its agility, collaborative spirit, and impact orientation. Our work builds from the COVID-19 Evidence Network to support Decision-making (COVID-END)—the world’s most trusted source of best evidence about the COVID-19 response and a partnership among 55 partners drawn from diverse evidence synthesis, technology assessment and guideline groups. Learn more about our connection to COVID-END below.


  • David Halpern

    Trusted policy advisor bringing formal experimentation and behavioural insights into governments – first in the United Kingdom and now in many countries
  • Gillian Leng

    Experienced executive leading a technology-assessment and guideline agency that supports health and social care decision-making by governments, services providers and patients
  • Howard White

    Research leader supporting the use of robust evaluation and evidence synthesis in decision-making in international development and across sectors
  • Jan Minx

    Impact-oriented scholar bringing innovative evidence-synthesis approaches to domestic policy advice and global assessments about climate action and sustainability
  • Jinglin He

    Non-governmental organization leader engaging policymakers and stakeholders, as well as UN agencies, in advancing social-development initiatives
  • Julia Belluz

    Respected journalist bringing rigour to reporting about what the best available science does and doesn’t tell us about the major challenges of our time
  • Julian Elliott

    Clinician researcher leveraging technology for efficiently preparing and maintaining ‘living’ evidence syntheses and guidelines to inform decision-making
  • Kerry Albright

    Eternally curious international public servant bringing passion about evidence-informed decision-making, systems thinking, and helping others understand the value of evidence to international development
  • Maureen Smith

    Citizen leader championing the meaningful engagement of patients and citizens in conducting research and using it in their decision-making
  • Neil Vora

    Inter-disciplinary professional bringing planetary-health thinking to the interface between conservation efforts (such as preventing deforestation) and pandemic prevention
  • Petrarca Karetji

    Entrepreneurial policy advisor innovating in the use of data analytics to support evidence-informed policymaking about sustainable development
  • Steven Kern

    Foundation leader using data analytics and other forms of evidence to fight poverty, disease and inequity around the world


The secretariat includes two scientific co-leads (John Lavis and Jeremy Grimshaw) and an executive lead (Jenn Verma), and many individuals based at the McMaster Health Forum. Secretariat members play many roles over the life of the commission, including the following roles specific to the final report:

John Lavis acts as the lead report writer and led the drafting and revising of the text and exhibits

Jenn Verma leads the creative process of making exhibits as engaging as possible and who led much of the engagement with commissioners, advisors and funders

Jeremy Grimshaw helps to shape the report and provided feedback on all of the exhibits

Kaelan Moat leads many of the evidence reviews drawn on in drafting the text and exhibits

Kartik Sharma leads many of the analyses drawn on in drafting the exhibits related to global commissions

Hannah Gillis contributes to many of the analyses drawn on in drafting the exhibits related to global commissions

David Tovey provides feedback on select exhibits

Jorge Barreto supports the engagement of our Brazilian commissioner

Ileana Ciurea supports overall project management and coordinates the involvement of key staff at the McMaster Health Forum, including:

  • Brittany Dinallo who provides marketing advice
  • Cristian Mansilla who undertakes analyses of COVID-END database content drawn on in drafting select exhibits
  • Francois-Pierre Gauvin who provides input to the citizen-related aspects of the report 
  • James McKinlay who undertakes analyses of Social Systems Evidence content drawn on in drafting exhibit 4.5
  • Julie Baird who provides operational support
  • Steven Lott who provides communications support

Christy Groves who leads the graphic design of the exhibits and full report

Amy Zierler who will undertake the initial report-editing process

Sue Johnston who will undertake the final copy-editing process

The bios and contact information for many members of secretariat members based at the McMaster Health Forum can be found here

The secretariat benefited significantly from input from the COVID-END Advocating working group and from input received in its role as a co-sponsor (with WHO) of the Cochrane Convenes event held in October 2021.

Commissioner terms of reference

Drawing on their expertise and experiences in addressing (or informing efforts to address) societal challenges from the vantage point of one or more categories of decision-makers and using one or more forms of evidence, commissioners will support the Evidence Commission in four (or five) main ways:

  • Participate in virtual deliberations to shape the report structure and content, sections, and proposed pathways to influence (e.g., advisors and events)
  • Provide input on select draft sections (e.g., tables and infographics) that will be disseminated widely both to elicit input to improve them and to begin to build the case for action
  • Identify key gaps in the sections, the analyses needed to underpin sections, and the interviews and other communications with partners needed to ensure the sections are fit for purpose
  • Review the draft final report, endorse the final recommendations about how to better meet the evidence needs of decision-makers as they address societal challenges, both in routine times and in future global crises, and review the prioritized pathways to influence
  • (Optional) Contribute to virtual events where the published report has the potential to achieve significant influence

Connection to COVID-END

The COVID-19 Evidence Network to support Decision-making (COVID-END) first identified the need for the Evidence Commission, and helped shape the report contents, and it is committed to pursuing pathways to influence for the Evidence Commission’s recommendations.

COVID-END’s  55 partners are drawn from diverse evidence-synthesis, technology-assessment and guideline-development communities, as well as key ‘intermediary organizations.’ The partners have long track records of supporting decision-makers locally, nationally and internationally and across sectors. They are among the most respected organizations in their respective fields. They came together to provide a more coordinated evidence response to the once-in-a-generation global challenge of COVID-19. Their evidence-related activities have spanned the full spectrum of the pandemic response, from public-health measures and clinical management to health-system arrangements and economic and social responses. Their activities also covered the full spectrum of contexts where the pandemic response has been playing out, including low-, middle- and high-income countries. As the world begins to return to addressing both slow-burn societal challenges and encounters new crises, COVID-END’s partners want to see us build on what went well with the evidence response to COVID-19 and ensure that we address what could have gone better.

COVID-END acts as ‘umbrella’ for these partners in the time-limited evidence response to COVID-19, and many of them in turn act as an umbrella for many other partners in addressing a broad range of societal challenges, such as:

  • Africa Centre for Evidence, which supports the Africa Evidence Network in bringing together more than 3,000 people from across Africa to support evidence-informed decision-making
  • Campbell Collaboration, which supports teams around the world to prepare and support the use of evidence syntheses in areas like business and management, climate solutions, crime and justice, disability, education, international development, and social welfare
  • Cochrane, which includes review groups around the world that prepare evidence syntheses and geographic groups in 45 countries and thematic networks in 13 domains that support evidence-informed decision-making on health-related topics
  • Evidence Synthesis International, which supports evidence-synthesis organizations around the world that produce, support, and use evidence syntheses
  • Guidelines International Network, which supports 130 organizations around the world that develop and implement evidence-based guidelines.
  • The Evidence Commission welcomes expressions of interest from other umbrella organizations that can commit to pursuing pathways to influence for the Evidence Commission’s recommendations.