Who we are

The COMET Initiative is led by the COMET Management Group.

To see the PoPPIE Working Group members click here.

Management Group members:

Professor Paula Williamson (Chair)

Paula Williamson is Professor of Biostatistics, and was appointed as APVC for Strategy and Policy in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences in 2018. She is Lead for the MRC/NIHR Trials Methodology Research Partnership (TMRP). She was Head of the Department of Biostatistics, 2002-2018, and Director of the Clinical Trials Research Centre, 2005-2018. Paula chairs the University of Liverpool’s Health and Biomedical Informatics Group. Paula co-founded and has led the COMET (Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials) Initiative since 2010. She was appointed as an NIHR Senior Investigator in 2014, gave the Bradford Hill Lecture in 2017, and was elected to the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2018.

Dr Elizabeth Gargon (COMET Project Coordinator)

Elizabeth Gargon obtained a PhD in the Institute of Translational Medicine (Biostatistics) at the University of Liverpool. Elizabeth is the Project Coordinator for the COMET (Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials) Initiative. Liz conducts an annual systematic review of core outcome sets (COS) and maintains a database of COS (http://www.comet-initiative.org/studies/search). Liz’s recent projects have involved working with external colleagues to understand, develop and test complex automated methods to help with the screening process involved in a systematic review of this nature. Liz has also recently explored the impact of design characteristics on response rates in Delphi surveys within COS development, as well as carrying out a retrospective assessment of COS minimum standards (COS-STAD) for cancer COS to provide a baseline of caner COS standards. Liz’s current projects include the redevelopment of the COMET website and database, the recent update of the systematic review of COS (including an assessment of minimum standards in COS published in 2018) as well as developing a protocol to assess the uptake of a COS.  

Ms Heather Bagley (COMET People and Patient Participation, Involvement and Engagement (PoPPIE) Working Group representative)

Heather is Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) co-ordinator with The COMET Initiative. Heather originally trained as a nurse but has worked in research, health service improvement and PPI for the majority of her career. Heather has also been a public contributor in research for many years and attended the first COMET meeting in that capacity.  She is a member of The COMET People and Patient Participation, Involvement and Engagement (PoPPIE) Working Group and is currently undertaking a PhD in relation to patient participation in core outcome set studies.

Professor Jane Blazeby

Jane Blazeby is Professor of Surgery at the University of Bristol and an Honorary Consultant Surgeon at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.  She studied Medicine at the University of Bristol, undertook higher surgical training in the South West of England. She was an MRC Clinician Scientist between 2000 and 2006. Jane aims to establish evidence-based surgical practice in the UK. She is achieving this by leading and supporting research to improve methods to evaluate surgical interventions. She works with surgeons across the country to design and deliver studies with integrated novel methods. She also is investing in and developing a new generation of surgeons who understand and can lead future studies.

Jane directs the Bristol Centre of Surgical Research. The Centre includes the Surgical Innovation theme of the Bristol Biomedical Research Centre and Royal College of England Surgical Trials Centre. For the past decade it also included the MRC Hub for Trials Methodology Research. Jane is Chief Investigator of the NIHR HTA By-Band-Sleeve study in bariatric surgery. She supports new chief investigators to gain funding to deliver surgical trials. She has a long-standing interest in patient reported outcomes research and she is a member of the Core Outcome Measures in Effectiveness Trials (COMET) management group.


Professor Mike Clarke

Mike Clarke is Chair of Research Methodology and Director of the Northern Ireland Methodology Hub at Queen’s University Belfast and Director of the Northern Ireland Clinical Trials Unit. He has more 30 years’ experience in rigorous assessments of the effects of health and social care, including work on many randomised trials and systematic reviews. As well as his work on core outcome sets and COMET, Mike’s methodology research includes helping to establish the SWAT (Study Within a Trial) initiative (go.qub.ac.uk/SWAT-SWAR) and he is Co-ordinating Editor of the Cochrane Methodology Review Group. Mike has a strong interest in increasing capacity for the conduct and use of research and is a founder and Research Director of Evidence Aid, improving access to research that is relevant to disasters and humanitarian emergencies.

Dr Sean Tunis

Sean Tunis, MD, MSc. is a Principal with Rubix Health where he consults with public and private sector organizations on issues at the interface of regulatory and reimbursement policy, market access, comparative effectiveness, outcomes measurement and health technology assessment.  Dr. Tunis is also the Founder and Senior Strategic Advisor with the Center for Medical Technology Policy in Baltimore, Maryland.  CMTP is an independent, non-profit organization that provides a neutral platform for multi-stakeholder collaborations that are focused on improving the quality, relevance, and efficiency of clinical research.  Dr. Tunis is the immediate past President of Health Technology Assessment International.

Through September of 2005, Dr. Tunis was the Director of the Office of Clinical Standards and Quality and Chief Medical Officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  In this role, he had lead responsibility for clinical policy and quality for the Medicare and Medicaid programs.  Dr. Tunis supervised the development of national coverage policies, quality standards for Medicare and Medicaid providers; quality measurement and public reporting initiatives, and the Quality Improvement Organization program.  As Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tunis served as the senior advisor to the CMS Administrator on clinical and scientific policy.  He also co-chaired the CMS Council on Technology and Innovation.

Dr. Tunis joined CMS in 2000 as the Director of the Coverage and Analysis Group.  Before joining CMS, Dr. Tunis was a senior research scientist with the Technology Assessment Group, where his focus was on the design and implementation of prospective comparative effectiveness trials and clinical registries.  Dr. Tunis also served as the Director of the Health Program at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and as a health policy advisor to the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, where he participated in policy development regarding pharmaceutical and device regulation.

He received a B.S. degree in Biology and History of Science from the Cornell University School of Agriculture, and a medical degree and masters in Health Services Research from the Stanford University School of Medicine.  Dr. Tunis did his residency training at UCLA and the University of Maryland in Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine.  He is board certified in Internal Medicine and holds adjunct faculty appointments at Johns Hopkins, Tufts and the University of California San Francisco Schools of Medicine.

Former COMET Management Group members:

Professor Doug Altman was a founding member of the COMET Initiative and was an active part of the Management group from 2010-2018. Doug was a Professor of Statistics in Medicine at the University of Oxford, and founder and Director of the UK EQUATOR Centre.


The COMET People and Patient Participation, Involvement and Engagement (PoPPIE) working group was established to lead and oversee the public participation, involvement and engagement work of the COMET Initiative.

PoPPIE Working Group members:

John Turner MBE, Co-chair PoPPIE Working Group, UK
Maureen Smith, Co-chair of Cochrane’s Consumer Executive, Canada
Bridget Young, Professor of Psychology, University of Liverpool, UK
Jean Slutsky, Chief Engagement and Dissemination Officer, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), USA
Mandy Daly, Director of Advocacy and Policy Making, Irish Neonatal Health Alliance, Ireland
Jan Geissler, Chief Executive Officer, Patvocates (Europe)
Maarten de Wit, OMERACT Executive Committee member, and member of the OMERACT Patient Research Partner Support Team, OMERACT (International)
Doreen Tembo, Senior Research Manager for Patient and Public Involvement and External Review, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Evaluations Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre, UK
Heather Bagley, Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) co-ordinator, The COMET Initiative (International)

To see the biographies of the current members of the working group click here.