Alessandro Liberati

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Alessandro Liberati
Born(1954-04-27)27 April 1954
Genoa, Italy
Died1 January 2012(2012-01-01) (aged 57)
Bologna, Italy
Alma materUniversity of Milan
ChildrenElisa and Valeria

Alessandro Liberati (Genoa, Italy, 27 April 1954 – Bologna, Italy, 1 January 2012) was an Italian healthcare researcher and clinical epidemiologist, and founder of the Italian Cochrane Centre.


Alessandro Liberati graduated from the University of Milan in 1978 with a degree in Medicine, and obtained a postgraduate degree in Hygiene and Preventive Medicine from the same university in 1982. Before his graduation, he started collaborating with the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, where he led the laboratory of clinical epidemiology for a dozen years. He spent postgraduate research periods at the Harvard School of Public Health and at the RAND Corporation. He was an advocate of the evidence-based medicine movement and one of the founders of the Cochrane Collaboration, an international network of researchers established in 1993,[1] producing a collection of systematic reviews of the medical literature, published in the Cochrane Library. In 1994 he started the Italian Cochrane Centre[2] as the sixth Centre in the Cochrane Collaboration, which currently lists 31 centres and branches, and was its director for eighteen years.[3]

In 1998 Liberati moved to academia, becoming associate professor of Medical Statistics at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia. The following year he also became director of CeVEAS, a regional evidence-based centre located in Modena aimed at supporting clinicians' and health-care policymakers' decisions. In 2002 he started a Research and Innovation Program at the Emilia-Romagna Regional Health Care Agency, aimed at promoting patient-oriented clinical research bringing together clinicians, researchers, health care institutions, patients and the industry. Later in the same year Liberati was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. In 2003 he underwent two bone marrow transplants. He continued his work in patient-oriented research, as vice-president of Italy's National Committee for Health Research, and as a member of the Research and Development Committee of the Italian Drug Agency.

In late 2011 his clinical condition worsened until his death on 1 January 2012. In a press release, the Italian Minister of Health Renato Balduzzi described Liberati as one of the most insightful Italian researchers and a prominent member of the international scientific community.[4]

Career and international reputation[edit]

Several obituaries describe Liberati's professional experience, highlighting the main features of his work and the ideas he supported.[2][5][6][7][8][9][10] He believed that within a health system, research should be an integral part of its mission, especially where lack of commercial interests prevents the possibility of private investment,[6] and that researchers should concentrate on what is relevant to patients, not to their careers or to drug companies.[5][11][12] Moreover, he strongly believed that developing alliances with consumers is necessary for setting research priorities,[1][13] and that research results should be easily accessible to people who need to make decisions about their own health.[2][5]

In keeping with Iain Chalmers, one of the founders of the Cochrane Collaboration, Liberati was one of the pioneers of evidence synthesis,[1] specifically, analyzing controlled trials of treatments for early breast cancer[14] and assessing the effects of antibiotic prophylaxis in patients in intensive care.[15] Chalmers mentions that he was pleased that Liberati and his colleagues' centre created "the first challenge to 'anglophone imperialism' within the evolving Collaboration".[1]

Liberati was on the editorial board of two international medical journals, the British Medical Journal and Annals of Internal Medicine. He was a member of groups of international researchers developing standards to improve the quality of reporting of medical evidence (such as PRISMA)[16] and to grade recommendations within clinical guidelines for medical decision-making (such as GRADE).[17] He was an author of 187 scientific publications in international peer-reviewed medical journals.[18]

During 2003 and 2008, Liberati led with Zadig, a scientific publisher, specialized in EBM communication, a program to disseminate independent and unbiased information to all Italian doctors.[19] He did so by translating Clinical Evidence, a compendium of the best available evidence on treating a wide range of common conditions, into Italian and distributing it freely, supported by the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA). By 2008, six Italian editions were published, freely available to all 248,000 doctors in practice in Italy at that time. Again in collaboration with Zadig, to speed up the diffusion of EBM, Liberati launched a free-access continuous medical education e-learning system, based on Clinical Evidence, called ECCE (the Italian acronym for Continuing Education Clinical Evidence).[20] At the end of 2008 almost 130,000 health professionals were using ECCE, considered contents relevant and appropriate for educational purposes and expressed their intention to apply the acquired information into clinical practice. This is considered a successful example of knowledge translation, making research findings more accessible and clinically relevant to increase their usefulness for practitioners and, ultimately, improve patient outcomes.

Liberati often used his own experience as a patient as evidence of the need for collaborative strategies in healthcare research, such as in an interview published by the World Health Organization[21] and in medical journal articles.[11][12] In his last months, Liberati kept a blog where he discussed and exchanged comments about his disease, health care and other themes.[22]


  1. ^ a b c d Chalmers I (2012). "Alessandro Liberati: a personal appreciation". Epidemiologia & Prevenzione. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Watts G (2012). "Alessandro Liberati" (PDF). Lancet. 379: 214. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(12)60092-0.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Farewell to Professor Alessandro Liberati". The Cochrane Collaboration. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  4. ^ "Ministro Balduzzi, cordoglio per il prof. Alessandro Liberati." Ministero della Salute. Accessed 21 March 2012
  5. ^ a b c Magrini N, Smith R (2012). "Alessandro Liberati. Campaigned for high quality evidence relevant to patients". BMJ. 344: e1101. doi:10.1136/bmj.e1101.
  6. ^ a b Traversa G, Mele A. "In ricordo di Alessandro Liberati". Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  7. ^ Network Cochrane Italiano. Il ricordo di Alessandro Liberati. Un innovatore delle politiche di ricerca clinica nel servizio pubblico. Sole 24 Ore Sanità, 10–16 gennaio 2012
  8. ^ Davoli M. (2012). "Liberati: un riferimento per l'epidemiologia e la ricerca". Epidemiologia & Prevenzione. 36: 4. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  9. ^ Bonati M. (2012). "Sandro Liberati: ragione e passione giocose" (PDF). Ricerca & Pratica. 28: 3–4. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  10. ^ Magrini N, Marata AM. "In ricordo di Alessandro Liberati". Informazioni sui Farmaci. Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  11. ^ a b Liberati A. (2011). "Need to realign patient-oriented and commercial and academic research" (PDF). Lancet. 378: 1777–8. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(11)61772-8. PMID 22098852. Retrieved 12 April 2012.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ a b Liberati A. (2004). "An unfinished trip through uncertainties". BMJ. 328 (531.1): 531. doi:10.1136/bmj.328.7438.531.
  13. ^ Liberati A. (1997). "Consumer participation in research and health care". BMJ. 315: 499. doi:10.1136/bmj.315.7107.499. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  14. ^ Himel HN, Liberati A, Gelber RD, Chalmers TC (1986). "Adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer: A pooled estimate based on results from published randomized control trials". JAMA. 256: 1148–1159. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380090088024.
  15. ^ "Meta-analysis of randomized control trials of selective decontamination of the digestive tract" (PDF). BMJ. 307: 525–532. 2003. doi:10.1136/bmj.307.6903.525. PMC 1678619. PMID 8400971.
  16. ^ Liberati A; Altman DG; Tetzlaff J; Mulrow C; Gøtzsche PC; et al. (2009). "The PRISMA Statement for Reporting Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses of Studies That Evaluate Health Care Interventions: Explanation and Elaboration". PLoS Med. 6 (7): e1000100. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000100. PMC 2707010. PMID 19621070.
  17. ^ Atkins D; Best D; Briss PA; et al. (2004). "Grading quality of evidence and strength of recommendations" (PDF). BMJ. 328: 1490–4. doi:10.1136/bmj.328.7454.1490. PMC 428525. PMID 15205295.
  18. ^ "Search Results for Liberati A". Retrieved 9 April 2012.
  19. ^ Formoso G, Moja L, Nonino F, Dri P, Addis A, Martini N, Liberati A (2003). "Clinical Evidence: a useful tool for promoting evidence based medicine?". BMC Health Services Research. 3: 24. doi:10.1186/1472-6963-3-24.
  20. ^ Moja L, Moschetti I, Liberati A, Manfrini R, Deligant C, Satolli R, Addis A, Martini N, Dri P (2007). "Using Clinical Evidence in a national continuing medical education program in Italy". PLoS Medicine. 4 (5): e113. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040113.
  21. ^ Liberati A. (2010). "So many questions, so few answers". Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 88 (8): 568–569. doi:10.2471/blt.10.030810.. Available at (retrieved 12 April 2012))
  22. ^ "Abbasso gli "smidollati"!". Retrieved 7 April 2012.