A Lancet Commission is defined as “A scientific review, inquiry, and response to an urgent, and perhaps neglected or understudied, health predicament”. They are science-led, internationally collaborative, multidisciplinary, and aim for transformational change at a high level.
Often Commissions are initiated by the Editors themselves in response to a noted gap or need—Editors will contact a proposed lead Commissioner and discuss what might be done. In this instance, the tables were turned and The Lancet Global Health’s Editor-in-Chief, Zoë Mullan, was approached by Professor Matthew Burton who saw an opportunity for the eye health community to “raise their game” and register high-level attention and commitment to addressing the rising prevalence of blindness and vision impairment worldwide—a largely preventable burden with great individual and societal impact.
Zoë invited Matthew and Professor Clare Gilbert to a meeting at The Lancet’s offices in the City of London in early December 2018. Here Zoë laid out the specifications of a Commission (including the composition of the Commissioner group – i.e., a balanced mix of genders, specialties, geographical locations, and experience level) and discussed top-level workflow, timelines, and funding. Hereafter, a concept note was drawn up by Matthew and colleagues, discussions and iterations continued, and a final outline was signed off by Zoë. At an initial kick-off meeting for key Commissioners in March 2019, she explained the “ingredients” of a successful Lancet Commission and answered questions thereon. The next 18 months were almost entirely down to Matthew and his team of Commissioners as the real work began, with Zoë being available to steer the direction from time to time and offer solutions to potential issues. During this time she also sourced and precontacted a set of external reviewers who blocked off time to peer review the final submitted draft. Reviews duly received and passed on, Zoë attended another (virtual) meeting with Matthew and team to go over the reviews and to make recommendations on how to condense and shape the Commission during the revision process. After acceptance, she continued to offer suggestions, advice, and support to the Commissioners as they jointly planned the Commission’s launch and dissemination.
As well as being Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet Global Health, Zoë is an Ex-Officio Board Member of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health and an International Advisory Board member of Sun-Yat Sen Global Health Institute, Guangzhou, China. Between 2013 and 2017 she was a Council Member and Trustee of the Committee on Publication Ethics. She trained in Biochemistry at the University of Bath, UK, before joining the publishing industry in 1997 as a Scientific Information Officer with CABI. She moved to The Lancet in 1999, where she has worked since, variously as a technical editor, section editor, and founding editor of The Lancet Global Health.