New Initiatives, Bold Vision for Journal of Clinical Oncology

Apr 16, 2012

In June 2011, Stephen A. Cannistra, MD, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, stepped into the role of Editor-in-Chief for ASCO’s flagship publication, the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO). In the following interview, he discusses the new features instituted during his first year as well as future plans. “I knew that this job would be an energizing experience for me and hopefully for the Journal,” Dr. Cannistra said. “I am happy to say that I have not been disappointed!”

AC: Why did you want to take on the responsibilities of Editor-in-Chief?
Dr. Cannistra:
Being Editor-in-Chief of any prominent clinical journal offers a unique opportunity to influence the way that we practice medicine. For JCO in particular, the Editor-in-Chief is directly responsible for setting a high bar that makes it possible to attract the best-quality cancer research—papers that will move the field and are potentially practice-changing. I loved the idea of embracing this challenge head-on and enabling this already great journal to rise to its full potential.

AC: What are your points of pride from your first year as Editor-in-Chief?
Dr. Cannistra:
It’s fair to say I’ve hit the ground running and have launched many new initiatives. There are many highlights that we can be proud of, including a formal Rapid Review mechanism, a demonstrable increase in the number of high-quality papers that warrant publication as Rapid Communications, the establishment of our popular podcast program, and the creation of a new section that we call Understanding the Pathway (affectionately referred to as “UTP”). These efforts have been well-received based on readership comments to me, which is a nice validation of the direction that we are taking.

AC: How has it been working with JCO’s editorial team?
Dr. Cannistra:
I am fortunate to work with people as committed as I am to publishing the very best oncology research in the world. We now have over 20 editors located in different parts of the world; it’s been my goal to establish unifying standards and adherence to our guidelines despite this geographical divide, so that our papers consistently represent the high quality that readers have come to expect. I do this through frequent email missives to my editors, sharing an interesting experience or a bit of wisdom that can help them in the conduct of their JCO activities. We also ask our editors to participate in biweekly conference calls, during which there is lively debate about specific manuscripts that serves to galvanize the group and establishes consistency in decision-making. It’s a great team, and I’m honored to work with them.

AC: What are your plans for JCO for the coming year?
Dr. Cannistra:
I believe that our clinical readership is interested in how the results of original research published in JCO affect individual patients in their daily practice. As a result, we are about to embark on a new feature in which we will invite leading experts in the field to discuss the management of a specific case in the context of an original report published in the same issue of the Journal. I am very excited about this and anticipate that it will be well received by our readership. Of course there are many other ideas, but given how fast we have progressed with new initiatives in such a short time, I need to give my terrific staff and editors time to catch their breath!

Dr. Cannistra is a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, an attending physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Co-Director of the Gynecologic Cancer Program at the Dana-Farber Harvard Cancer Center, and Director of Gynecologic Medical Oncology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His areas of expertise include clinical trial design, drug resistance, and ovarian cancer genomics. In addition to his role in JCO, he has served in several leadership roles in ASCO, including the Scientific Program Committee.
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