Author + information
- Douglas L. Mann, MD, Editor-in-Chief, JACC: Basic to Translational Science∗ ()
- ↵∗Address for correspondence:
Dr. Douglas L. Mann, Editor-in-Chief, JACC: Basic to Translational Science, American College of Cardiology, 2400 N. Street NW, Washington, DC 20037.
As I was preparing my vision statement as part of the process of renewing my position as Editor-in-Chief for JACC: Basic to Translational Science (JACBTS), I found myself returning to the same series of nagging questions, which at first blush should seem obvious to editor types, but on reflection were far less clear, at least to me: What role do medical journals play in society? Whom do they serve? How do journals remain relevant beyond serving an archival function for new knowledge? The original role of journals, dating back over 200 years, was to archive and disseminate new scientific information that informed the medical community about the latest advances in medicine. However, as I noted in the July issue of JACBTS, journal editors learned that to remain relevant (i.e., survive) they needed to expand their role beyond that of guardian of published data; they quickly learned that they needed to educate and entertain their readership (1). Thomas Wakley, the firebrand founding editor of the Lancet, also firmly believed that journals should serve as a bully pulpit for social reform (2). So what should medical journals really focus on in the 21st century? Richard Smith, the editor of the BMJ from 1991 to 2004, wrote: “I believe that a good journal will do all of these things, trying always to maintain a balance” (2). However, with the current trends toward depositing new scientific work on pre-print servers, the proliferation of opportunistic for-profit open access journals, and the dizzying array of social media platforms that provide information in real time, I believe that it will be increasingly hard for journals to be all things to all people all of the time. However, that does not mean we should not lean in.
JACBTS was founded on 2 guiding principles that were articulated in 2016, in its first issue (3). The first principle was to provide a literary home for cardiovascular “translationalists” whose work stood at the crossroads of basic and clinical research. Despite repeated public statements by funding agencies and governmental agencies about the importance of translating new scientific information from the bench to the bedside, basic science journals reject translational studies because they lack sufficient mechanistic depth, and clinical journals dismiss translational studies because they involve too few patients to engender confidence that phase III clinical trials will not replicate the initial findings. The journalistic zeitgeist that informs editorial decisions at JACBTS is that whereas we recognize that translational science has inherent limitations, we believe that translational science should adhere to the same rigorous scientific principles that govern the basic and clinical sciences. Just because a translational study employs a bright and shiny novel therapeutic agent does not mean that the early phase clinical studies should be given a pass for not having a proper control group, nor should the investigators of the study be allowed to claim their study is promising based on marginal p values for non-prespecified endpoints that are not linked to the mechanism of action of the therapeutic being tested. To my knowledge, nobody has ever really figured out how to do translational science well, which likely explains why elegant mechanistic basic science studies that are published in high-impact scientific journals repeatedly fail in phase I and II clinical trials, and why phase I and II clinical trials published in high-impact clinical journals repeatedly fail in phase III clinical trials. Our stated goal was and still is to “create an open access journal that will serve as a platform for accelerating the translation of new scientific discoveries into new therapies that improve clinical outcomes for patients afflicted with or at risk for cardiovascular disease.” Recognizing that translational science has become far too complex for a single person to master, the second guiding principle of JACBTS was to provide a forum and a learning center for basic and clinical investigators in academia and industry, patients and families, the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help advance translation cardiovascular medicine.
As I thought about what the mission(s) of JACBTS should be for the next 5 years, I quickly came to the realization that the guiding principles on which JACBTS were founded remain as relevant and urgent today, as they were 5 years ago. Cardiovascular disease remains the major cause of death worldwide. Accordingly, there is still a need today for a medical journal that is completely dedicated to bringing the fruits of fundamental scientific discoveries to patients. However, I also realize that for JACBTS to continue to grow and thrive beyond the first 5 years, JACBTS will need to do a better job at putting our readers first. My father, Lester Mann, who was the founding editor of the Journal of Special Education recognized this simple fact more than 40 years ago when he wryly noted in his first editorial that beyond serving an archival function “a journal publishes so that the reader might read. A simple observation, fraught with banality. Let me expand: I believe that a journal should inform, interest, and instruct the reader” (4). The Editors of JACBTS remain committed to providing exciting new content that will continue to inform our readers about the latest advances in cardiovascular translational medicine. As Editor-in-Chief, I am equally committed to adding new journalistic content that will educate, entertain, and inform our readership.
Journalistic growth requires that editors make changes. I am excited to announce that Coleen McNamara has joined the JACBTS editorial board as the new Deputy Editor and that Maria Kontarides has joined as a new Associate Editor. Michael Bristow will serve as the new Senior Guest Editor. I am also thrilled to announce that Karen Sipido will join the team in the fall of 2020. Her prior experience as Editor-in-Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine will prove invaluable. We have also added 4 new section editors who will provide much needed editorial expertise in research areas where we continue to received fascinating papers: Marlene Rabinovitch (pediatrics); Juan Granada (cardiac devices); Jean Connors (hematology and thrombosis); and Yibing Qyang (tissue engineering). Lastly, we have added Senior Advisory Editors—Christine Seidman, Leslie Leinwand, Eric Olson Robert, and Roberts—who provide critical input with respect to whether JACBTS is fulfilling its stated goals. I would be entirely remiss if I did not thank our departing editors who helped shape the course of JACBTS during its infancy, including L. Kristin Newby (founding Deputy Editor), Nanette Bishopric (founding Associate Editor), Eva van Rooij (founding Associate Editor), and Robert Roberts (founding Senior Guest Editor). I owe much to these departing editors, especially Kristin Newby who was there when I needed her the most. Lastly, I want to thank the publications committee for providing me with the opportunity to serve as Editor-in-Chief for JACBTS for another 5 years. As always, I welcome your thoughts about the content and direction of JACC: Basic to Translational Science, either through social media (#JACC:BTS) or by e-mail ().
- 2020 The Author
- Mann D.L.
- Smith R.
- Mann D.L.,
- Annex B.H.,
- Bishopric N.H.,
- et al.
- Mann L.