It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of Hyeong Sik Ahn, Director of Cochrane Korea, Professor at the Department of Preventive Medicine, and former Dean of the Graduate School of Public Health at Korea University.
Professor Ahn's enduring relationship with Cochrane, spanning over twenty years, began when he attended his first Cochrane Colloquium in 2002. This initial gathering in Norway fueled his determination to introduce Cochrane principles in Korea. In 2007, Professor Ahn led the establishment of the Korean Branch of the Australasian Cochrane Center. Two years later, Cochrane Korea was officially inaugurated at Korea University as a geographical group of Cochrane.
Beyond his Cochrane-related activities, Professor Ahn organized the 8th Guidelines International Network Conference in the summer of 2011, themed "Linking Evidence, Policy, and Practice," marking the first time the conference was held in Asia. In 2014, he authored an influential article published in the New England Journal of Medicine titled "Korea's Thyroid Cancer 'Epidemic' – Screening and Overdiagnosis." This article highlighted Professor Ahn's determination to address overdiagnosis, particularly within the Korean healthcare system.
One of the highlights of Professor Ahn's academic career was hosting the 24th Cochrane Colloquium in the fall of 2016 in Seoul, where colleagues and researchers from around the world gathered for a successful conference that the Cochrane Korea team fondly remembers. In 2015, he spearheaded the implementation of the Choosing Wisely Korea campaign, aimed at reducing unnecessary medical tests and treatments in the country. By 2022, the campaign had gained endorsement from twenty-seven Korean medical societies.
"Professor Ahn played a pivotal role in establishing Evidence-Based Medicine in Korea," says Catherine Spencer, CEO of Cochrane. "To the fortunate students and colleagues who knew him, his passing represents an immeasurable loss. He will be deeply missed."
Professor Hyun Jung Kim, who served as co-director alongside Professor Ahn, will now assume the role of Director of Cochrane Korea, carrying forward Professor Ahn's inspiring legacy.