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Holger Schünemann

Member of the GIN Board of Trustees 2012 - 2018; 2019 - 2023


Prof. Schünemann is Chair of the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact (formerly “Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics”). He began his research career in respiratory and exercise physiology as a medical student in the Department of Physiology at the Medical School of Hannover and with an award from the German government at the University at Buffalo (UB), State of New York.  He received an MD degree (1993) and a “doctor medicinae” degree (1994) from the Medical School of Hannover where he also completed an internship in internal and respiratory medicine. With a postdoctoral fellowship award from the German Research Association he went on to work in cellular and molecular lung biology at UB researching expression of cell adhesion molecules (integrins) in early postnatal lung development.  Realising the importance of high-quality skills in data analysis, general health research methods and developing a stronger sense for patient and population focused research he studied epidemiology and biostatistics during his postdoctoral fellowship (M.Sc. in Epidemiology, 1997).  He then conducted population-based studies on the association between oxidative stress, micronutrients and respiratory health leading to a Ph.D. degree (Epidemiology & Community Medicine, 2000) and completed training to qualify for certification in internal medicine and preventive medicine/public health at UB, where he joined the faculty in 2000.

From 2005 to 2009 he was at the Italian National Cancer Center in Rome, Italy, serving as interim chair of the department of Epidemiology from 2007 to 2009, before moving to McMaster University as full-time Professor and to become Chair of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics in 2009, widely considered the birthplace of evidence-based health care and problem-based learning. In his second term as chair of this prestigious department, he has led its longitudinal strategic plan (AGENDA 2020) to refocus the department into the “Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact (HEI)”. He completed his second and final term a chair in June 2019 and focuses now on research and implementation projects related to guidelines and systematic reviews.

His scientific work focuses on evidence synthesis, quality of life research and the presentation and development of health care recommendations spanning clinical medicine to public health. As a key contributor to the revised methods for WHO guideline development in 2006 and the Institute of Medicine statement on trustworthy guidelines in 2011 he co-led the reshaping of methodology for practice guideline development. He has authored or co-authored over 600 peer-reviewed publications, has been named by Thomson Reuters as one of the most influential 3,000 scientific minds of current times yearly since 2015, has an h-index of 133/93 (google scholar/web of science) and is on the list of the 1500 most cited scientists of all times from agricultural science to zoology ( He has been advisor to ministries of health, other governmental organisations and numerous professional societies for their knowledge synthesis and guideline programs and is co-chair of the GRADE working group ( where he was instrumental in the creation of 16 GRADE centers and networks globally. His work also focuses on practical application of science by researchers and clinicians through co-inventing tools like the GRADEpro guideline development tool ( and pioneering the use of GRADE evidence to decision tables, now reworked as GRADE evidence to decision frameworks ( With his colleagues he has recently created a “go to” crowdsourcing portal for developers of health care recommendations in collaboration with the Guideline International Network ( He is director of Cochrane Canada, co-director of the McMaster University WHO collaborating center for evidence informed policy-making (until 2018) and the McMaster GRADE center, co-chair of the Guidelines International Network and International Network of Health Technology Agencies (GINATHA) working group. He has served as methods lead on over 20 European Commission and WHO expert guideline committees and served as adviser to member countries. As editor in Chief, he leads the journal Health and Quality of Life Outcomes. Maintaining an active internal medicine practice fulfills his passion for patient care and ensures his research is people-oriented.

Vision for GIN

One of my key goals being to successfully implement a new partnership with GIN that will involve certification and credentialing in the context of guideline development. It is long overdue because it is inappropriate that for nearly all areas of healthcare training requirements and certification are in place and required but not for the important field of guideline development. Even when health professionals care for single individuals they require demonstration, mostly through certification, that they are qualified. Such initiatives are not available for guideline development but in order to ensure quality, credibility and trustworthiness they must be developed. A specific goal for the period on the board is to ensure that these mechanism of certification represent the views and needs of GIN members who I plan to represent. And that we develop a process and material that is accessible to all. Other specific contributions will relate to making more progress on our collaborations and interactions with the systematic review and health technology assessment communities (as co-chair of the GINAHTA Working Group) with which we share so many common goals and methods.



  • GIN North America (NA)

    GIN North America (GIN/NA) is a regional community of clinical practice guideline developers, users and other stakeholders from Canada, Mexico and the United States of America who are interested in improving the effectiveness, rigor and efficiency of guideline development, adaptation, dissemination, implementation and performance measurement. Through a series of educational webinars, regional training conferences, social media and special events, GIN/NA facilitates discussion, partnerships, collaboration and ongoing information sharing within the North American guideline community. The current Chair of the GIN North America Regional Community is Yerado Abrahamian:

Page last updated: Nov 17, 2020
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