Interviews with Outstanding Authors (2023)

Posted On 2023-04-20 14:53:56

In 2023, many JGO authors make outstanding contributions to our journal. Their articles published with us have received very well feedback in the field and stimulate a lot of discussions and new insights among the peers.

Hereby, we would like to highlight some of our outstanding authors who have been making immense efforts in their research fields, with a brief interview of their unique perspective and insightful view as authors.

Outstanding Authors (2023)

Asunción Fernández-Barral, Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria del Hospital Universitario La Paz, Spain

Minna Nortunen, Oulu University Hospital, Northern Finland

Erkut Borazanci, HonorHealth Research Institute, USA

Damiano Caputo, Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Campus Bio-Medico, Italy

Malte Benedikt Monin, University Hospital Bonn, Germany

Renata D’Alpino Peixoto, Oncoclinicas, Brazil

Luke M. Higgins, University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine, USA

David Piquemal, ACOBIOM, France

Krishan R. Jethwa, Mayo Clinic, USA

Rodrigo Nascimento Pinheiro, Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil

Zeba Siddiqui, McMaster University, Canada

Natalia S. Tissera, Vall´d Hebron Institute of Oncology, Spain

Chukwuyem Ekhator, New York Institute of Technology, USA

Richard J. Bold, Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center, USA

Eduardo de Souza M. Fernandes, Rio de Janeiro Adventist Hospital, Brazil

Shamar Young, University of Arizona, USA

Outstanding Author

Asunción Fernández-Barral

Dr. Asunción Fernández-Barral is a postdoctoral researcher at Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria del Hospital Universitario La Paz (IdiPAZ) and associate member of Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas “Alberto Sols” and Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red-Cáncer (CIBERONC) in Madrid, Spain. She graduated from Faculty of Biology and Biochemistry in 2007 at Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona (Spain), and obtained her PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology in 2012 at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain). At present, her work is focused on the study of the role of vitamin D in human colon normal and tumoral/cancer stem cells. These cells grow in three dimensions, giving rise to structures called organoids that resemble the organ of origin. Additionally, she is recently interested in the use of these orgnoids as a tool for drug testing aiming the personalized treatment of colorectal cancer patients.

Writing a scientific article, according to Dr. Fernández-Barral, is the culmination of a research work that involves a lot of efforts, funds, time and, in many cases, some frustration. Once having a body of original, potentially publishable results, writing a manuscript could be considered the easiest part of the process. However, it is a meticulous job that requires a lot of time and the ability to synthesize in a scientific, clear and direct way in order to accurately and reliably reflect the project carried out. Among the many responsabilities of a researcher (bench work, writing grants, supervising, lab managing…), the main obstacle for academic writing is to find time to be just focused on that task, usually not an easy one because it means a series of drafts and corrections.

Dr. Fernández-Barral reckons that researchers are no longer people who spend their life in the laboratory or simply focus on the bench work. Nowadays, researchers use the publicly available databases more than the pipette. Keeping up-to-date in science requires reading many papers (not exclusively those related to one’s particular field of research), collaborating with other specialists, attending to meetings and, not less importantly, asking for help when one gets stuck. Establishing a good collaborative network makes a difference in one’s research and is crucial to being able to answer the questions that arise in our society.

In Dr. Fernández-Barral’s view, it is the ultimate goal of any research to have its data shared among the scientific community. What good would it be to spend so much time and effort on a study that in the end is going to stay in a drawer or a private computer? The researcher's motivation is to answer questions and ensure science advancement. Sharing one’s results to the scientific community is relevant insofar as it can be crucial for other group’s projects. Diffusion, collaboration and honesty are the fundamental pillars that make science advance.

As I am not an M.D. with clinical duties, I can dedicate most of my time to research. Publishing our research findings is my main goal and so, writing articles is just an important part of the process. For this reason, once you put your work on track, it is necessary to prioritize your time and start writing,” says Dr. Fernández-Barral.

(Brad Li is the main author; Yi Tang, an intern of AME, helped proofread this interview)

Minna Nortunen

Dr. Minna Nortunen, M.D, Ph.D, is a consultant HPB surgeon and head of HPB surgery section at Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Northern Finland. Her clinical workload includes all aspects of general HPB surgery, but her special clinical interest is in oncovascular HPB surgery. Dr. Nortunen’s research interests involve early recognition of pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and especially accurate patient selection for heavy oncological and surgical treatments of PDAC. Recently, radiomics and artificial intelligence (AI) have raised the most promising study questions in her research group. The future research goals also involve studies combining radiomics and AI with histology of PDAC and primary liver cancers, aiming again to identify prognostic factors and surgical candidates early during the diagnostic process.

To Dr. Nortunen, a simple, well-defined study question is at the center of any good academic paper. It should be ensured that a thorough study plan including clear hypotheses, primary and secondary aims and solid statistical planning is first formulated. The study plan should have sufficient statistical power for making conclusions and methodology should be simple and reproducible to minimize bias and also to mitigate recruiting when in prospective setting. Recognition of limitations early at the planning phase of the study is important and improves the quality and objectivity of the study.

Speaking of the essential qualities of a reviewer, Dr. Nortunen believes that any author should be objective, resilient, and hardworking, while integrity is still the most important singular quality. She feels concise and systematic reporting is the main element of a quality academic paper, but she also values fluent language and skilled writing, which may help boost readability of the publication. Any author is also a part of a research group and recognizing everybody’s contribution and pulling one's weight are also critical qualities for all authors.

In addition, Dr. Nortunen also deems institutional review board (IRB) to be a crucial element in high-quality research. Its purpose is to evaluate the ethical aspects and safety of the study methodology and to ensure the patient rights and wellbeing of study participants are accounted for. Omitting this process would lead to unregulated research with misconductances and ultimately potentially dangerous study settings for patients and to the entire community of clinicians, when misinterpreted.

JGO is an excellent choice, when aiming for visibility with open access and quality peer review. JGO publishes high-quality gastrointestinal cancer research from multidisciplinary approaches. Therefore, the readership is vast and the journal succeeds very well in offering a contemporary and wide perspective to any gastrointestinal cancer entity,” says Dr. Nortunen.

(By Brad Li, Eunice X. Xu)

Erkut Borazanci

Dr. Erkut Borazanci is the director of the Oncology Division at HonorHealth Research Institute in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. He holds adjunct appointments as a clinical associate professor at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and a clinical assistant professor at University of Arizona. He obtained his Master of Science in molecular biology and biochemistry at Louisiana State University (LSU) Health. He completed medical school, internal medicine residency, and oncology fellowship at LSU Health Shreveport. His specialty is gastrointestinal oncology. Dr. Borazanci is the principal investigator for several clinical trials, many of which are phase I and are first in human studies. He has a strong interest in the treatment and early detection of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. HonorHealth Research Institute has worked closely with TGen and several other collaborators to bring new and promising agents to offer as treatment options at HonorHealth Research Institute. Follow Dr. Borazanci on LinkedIn, and learn more about him here and here.

JGO: Why do we need academic writing? What is so important about it?

Dr. Borazanci: Scientific research is an essential way to improve health outcomes. Conducting research, whether in a lab or a clinical setting through trials, chart reviews or case reports, can allow for greater insight into treating people better with various illnesses. It’s important to be able to share the results of research through publications, whether through abstracts submitted to conferences or through peer review journals. Without the presentation and distribution of these findings, advancements cannot be made. One personal example – I saw a poster presentation describing the benefit of ipilumumab and nivolumab in a subset of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) patients by my colleague Peter Hosein at GI ASCO in January 2020, which eventually became a publication (J Clin Oncol 38, 2020 (suppl 4; abstr 754); JAMA Oncol. 2022 Jun 1;8(6):1-3. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2022.0611. PMID: 35446342; PMCID: PMC9026238). This led me to offer this combination to certain individuals who carry BRCA mutations in PDAC and led me to offer this treatment to the individual who had somatic profile in his tumor of dMMR (J Gastrointest Oncol 2023;14(1):458-462. doi: 10.21037/jgo-22-587). The individual had a remarkable response. Without this research being presented in 2020, I would not have been aware of it.

JGO: What are the key skill sets of an author?

Dr. Borazanci: It’s important to write clearly and to walk your audience through the manuscript. Obviously, there are differences in the type of manuscript, but it’s important that the reader can understand the background and what was done in the research project. For a review article to be successful, it must provide adequate and substantial citations, akin to a major presentation such as a grand rounds talk where there is a deep understanding of the material that the reader can reference. My advice to individuals starting out in writing manuscripts is to read and to find out what works for you as a reader and take that with you when you are writing manuscripts yourself.

JGO: Is it important for authors to disclose Conflict of Interest (COI)?

Dr. Borazanci: It’s important for authors to disclose COI. We all have conflicts in everything we do and it’s important to acknowledge them. I believe most individuals carry out their work with the utmost respect to fairness, free of bias, but it’s also important for the audience to be informed of relationships that can be perceived as biased so they can come to their conclusions with all the appropriate information.

JGO: Academic writing takes a lot of time and effort. What motivates you to do so?

Dr. Borazanci: I love learning about a topic. I always find myself learning things when writing. As someone who does clinical research, I am constantly reminded of the difficulty of the disease that I treat. But I relish going to a conference or sitting in on a lecture where I’m learning more about a given topic. Even in topics that I’m comfortable with, I find myself learning something new all the time. While the effort to write is time-consuming, it is important for me to do what I can to make time.

(By Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

Damiano Caputo

Damiano Caputo MD, FACS, is an Associate Professor of Surgery at University Campus Bio-Medico di Roma and a Head of Laparoscopic and Minimally Invasive Surgery Unit at Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Campus Bio-Medico. His main research areas are minimally invasive surgery including general and surgical oncology. His special fields of interest in surgical oncology are colorectal and pancreatic cancer treatment. In recent years, he focuses on the subject of nanotechnology in surgical oncology for the early detection of pancreatic cancer.

Prof. Caputo thinks an author, in academic writing, should be able to communicate the results of his/her research in a simple and understandable way. In addition, the papers should be streamlined, easy to read and contain a text that paragraph after paragraph leads the reader with fluency in understanding the rationale of the research, the methodology with which it was carried out, what are the results obtained and how these results can be used in everyday life. He also points out honesty, integrity and scientific rigor are indispensable qualities for an author.

In Prof. Caputo’s opinion, the most common difficulties in academic writing are the lack of specific training and teaching focused on this topic during the years of the medical school or the residency and PhD programs. Furthermore, the lack of English native speakers and statisticians in the majority of the University represents a limit to the spread of the academic writing in all the countries.

Talking about choosing a journal to publish papers, Prof. Caputo thinks the scope and rank of the journal are two main factors influencing authors. “The decision to publish a paper in one journal rather than another is mainly guided by the topic of the research which must fall within the fields of dissemination interest of the journal. Secondly, taking into account the presumed scientific relevance of the topic, the choice falls on more or less ranked journals,” says he.

Prof. Caputo also shares his view on Conflict of Interest (COI) disclosure. He believes the results of the scientific research must be oriented towards the common good and therefore it is not possible to reach this goal if the research is not spontaneous but the disclosure of COI is absent.

(By Xing Liu, Brad Li)

Malte Benedikt Monin

Malte Benedikt Monin, MD, completed his medical studies at the Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany, where he also obtained his doctorate for his research in colorectal cancer. He is currently working as a Specialist in Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the University of Bonn, Germany. His main research areas are opportunistic infections in immunocompromised hosts, including their prevention and therapy. His future focus will be especially on patients with haematological and/or oncological diseases. In parallel, Dr. Monin will also specialise clinically in this field.

As an expert in clinical research, Dr. Monin thinks academic writing should always be accompanied by some recommendations for practical implementation in clinical practice. Therefore, academic writing is particularly important to announce the latest clinical results to the professional world in an understandable way. Accordingly, he thinks the authors have to be critical, especially with pseudo-paradigms, and open to changes in their writings.

Dr. Monin shares his key to balance clinical research and academic writing. For him, good time management is essential. He adds, “It suits me to do clinical research. It’s easier to integrate that into your everyday life as a practising doctor. In the best case, you deal with questions that concern you yourself. That creates a win-win situation.”

On research data sharing in academic writing, Dr. Monin thinks sometimes it can lead to cooperation and new projects. In his words, if data have been collected properly, there is nothing against sharing them; on the contrary, sharing data may take a second critical look from others.

(By Xing Liu, Brad Li)

Renata D’Alpino Peixoto

Dr. Renata D’Alpino Peixoto is currently a co-coordinator of the Gastrointestinal Oncology Department at Oncoclínicas, São Paulo, Brazil, which is the largest cancer group in Brazil (over 80 sites in Brazil). She is a medical oncologist and clinical researcher in the field of gastrointestinal and neuroendocrine tumors. Connect with Dr. Peixoto on Instagram.

Dr. Peixoto thinks a good academic paper should be easy to read and make readers truly learn with that paper. She points out that during preparation of a paper, authors should make sure the writing is objective and easy to learn. Although academic writing takes a lot of time and effort, for her, it is the best way to gain knowledge about that subject.

Dr. Peixoto also shares her opinion on disclosure of Conflict of Interest (COI). She believes financial or other personal considerations can compromise an investigator's professional judgment in conducting or reporting research. And in this case, knowing the potential COI of an author may influence the interpretation of a study.

(By Xing Liu, Brad Li)

Luke M. Higgins

Dr. Luke M. Higgins is resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Michigan. He received his undergraduate degree at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and his medical degree from the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont. His primary interests include gastrointestinal malignancies, patient reported outcomes, palliative care, medical education, and health equity, with particular interests in gender/sexuality and rural health.

To Dr. Higgin, good academic papers ask questions that have the potential impact for real world to identify the following steps and arouse readers' curiosity to continue a course of discovery. He also points out several elements of a good paper: clear presentation of data in figures, good judgement for data in the main body, and readable and engageable discussions. He appreciates that Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology (JGO) includes a “highlight box” which is really useful in promoting engagement and readability.

To ensure his own writing is up-to-date, Dr. Higgin prefers to find resources that can do some of the work, like “quadshot” emails in radiation oncology, which highlight the most important developments across a larger field. In addition, he thinks forward citation chaining can be incredibly useful in ensuring complete context for each paper cited. Taking his recent publication in JGO as an example, he discovered papers outside initial MeSH term-based searches through forward citation chaining, and continued to forward citation chain throughout the process to see if there was any additional work happening in any areas of interest.

Speaking of which journals to choose for publishing one’s papers, Dr. Higgins thinks it is most useful to look at a journal’s previous publications. He shares a case of his article recently published in JGO, “We were engaging directly with data that were previously published on reasons for surgical nonadherence and contrasting with our institutional data – we knew that JGO was publishing interesting and impactful information in this area and hoped to continue to add through our manuscript.”

On the necessity of institutional review board (IRB) approval in an academic research, Dr. Higgins stress that one the one hand, for patients, IRBs provide an imperative safe guard. He emphasizes, “High scrutiny and peer review at multiple stages is what patients deserve. Historically, medicine has done immense harm to many populations of patients, including people who are incarcerated, Black and Indigenous people, and others. IRB approval and monitoring is one of several safeguards to ensure that we maintain nonmaleficence through research endeavors.” On the other hand, for researchers, he believes it is necessary to maintain ethical responsibilities and follow institutional practice. He encourages researchers to value the review process and think the other side of the process from multi-perspectives.

(By Xing Liu, Brad Li)

David Piquemal

Dr. David Piquemal holds the esteemed position of Chief Scientific Officer at ACOBIOM and is a valued member of the Company's Executive Committee. In this capacity, he oversees ACOBIOM's scientific and technical affairs, clinical research activities, and corporate technology. Before joining ACOBIOM, he served as a Researcher at the Human Genome Institute (CNRS, Montpellier, France). His primary focus lies in precision medicine, aiming to optimize preventive, diagnostic, or therapeutic interventions for specific patient subpopulations to maximize benefits. The development of Precision Medicine is rooted in leveraging vast amounts of data (big data), heralding a significant transformation in medical practices and concepts. By providing predictive values on treatment quality and efficiency, patient care and quality of life during treatment can be vastly improved, leading to reduced hospitalization costs, biomedical research expenses, and pharmaceutical industry expenditures. Dr. Piquemal's dedication to advancing precision medicine showcases his commitment to enhancing healthcare outcomes and patient well-being. Connect with Dr. Piquemal on LinkedIn.

To ensure the credibility and impact of a scientific paper, Dr. Piquemal strives to adhere to several essential elements: I) a clear and focused research question or thesis statement sets the foundation; II) a thorough literature review demonstrates familiarity with existing knowledge; III) rigorous methodology, including data collection, analysis, and complete access, ensures validity; (IV) precise results and interpretation supported by evidence strengthen the paper's credibility; V) lastly, a critical discussion of findings in the context of previous research highlights novelty.

In Dr. Piquemal’s opinion, through reading and engaging with the works of other academic researchers, we can exchange and confront ideas, and enrich ourselves from others. In order to hold new insights to the field of research, he subscribes to various websites such as the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, which provides weekly reports on PubMed, ClinicalTrials, etc. In addition, he also regularly participates in conferences directly related to his specialties or more general ones.

From Dr. Piquemal’s perspective, obtaining institutional review board approval is vital to ensure ethical research conduct and participant protection. He also points out omitting this process can compromise research integrity, take potential harms to participants, hinder publication acceptance, and jeopardize the credibility and validity of the study.

(By Xing Liu, Brad Li)

Krishan R. Jethwa

Krishan R. Jethwa is an assistant professor of radiation oncology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. His clinical and research interests are in the care of patients with malignancies of the gastrointestinal tract. Specifically, he is interested in identification of biological or radiologic predictors of treatment response, advanced radiotherapy technologies, and multidisciplinary cancer care by incorporating radiotherapy with chemotherapy or other novel systemic agents and/or surgery with the ultimate goal of improving patient quality of life and oncologic outcomes. He has an additional academic passion in enhancing the quality of cancer care through medical education. He pursues this passion through serving as a journal editor/reviewer to help disseminate high-quality data, participating in cancer treatment guideline development, and through formal and informal means via publications, lectures, podcasts, or social media. Connect with Dr. Jethwa on Twitter.

As a predominantly clinical investigator involved in comparative effectiveness research, Dr. Jethwa shares his keys for preparing an academic writing. He believes the most critical first step is identifying an impactful question. To achieve this, he recommends that questions be clear, interventions and/or prognostic variables be defined, and the research conducted in a manner in which a defined hypothesis is being tested (i.e., not a “fishing expedition”). In addition, he suggests researchers perform background work to clarify primary/secondary study aims, primary hypothesis, statistical methods, and formulate tables and pre-determine manuscript figures before data collection is conducted. He explains, “This initial work allows us to pre-generate our patient demographic/treatment information table and it informs exactly what variables will need to be collected and how our dataset should be coded such that we may maximize project efficiency and quality. I also encourage statistical review early to help inform statistical plan and dataset generation.” These approaches with considerable foresight into the final manuscript/data reporting help overcome some of the difficulties in academic writing as they relate to impact of the study question, strength of hypothesis testing, appropriate statistical methodology and results to address the question.

As for critical writing, Dr. Jethwa admits it involves approaching subject matter with a thoughtful and analytical mindset, including evaluating, questioning, and challenging ideas, theories, arguments and evidence. In view of this, he shares some tips:

  • Reviewing background literature
  • Questioning assumptions
  • Analyzing the methodology
  • Evaluating your results in the context of other evidence
  • Reflecting upon how your own biases and assumptions may influence your perspective
  • Constructing clear and precise arguments that are supported by the presented and/or available data
  • Identifying and addressing counterarguments
  • Staying objective and constructive when appropriate
  • Seeking and being open to feedback from a diverse group of collaborators
  • Practice!

In addition, Dr. Jethwa talks about the value of data sharing in academic research. He thinks multi-institutional collaboration, with associated data sharing, provides an opportunity to strengthen research in multiple ways including increasing statistical power through an expanded sample size, increasing generalizability of the data through increasing diversity and representativeness of the population, and potentially strengthening the presentation of the data through incorporating an expanded group of collaborators with diverse perspectives. In his opinion, a fundamental principle of medical research is maintaining the appropriate restrictions and protections of patients and patient data. He believes if investigators can generate appropriate questions, a sufficient data analysis plan, and create a data sharing agreement/plan which prioritizes patient and patient data protection, multi-institutional collaboration and data sharing can serve as a fantastic way to strengthen a publication and increase impact to subsequently improve outcomes for patients.

Lastly, Dr. Jethwa would like to say a few words to encourage academic writers who have been devoting themselves to advancing scientific progress, “To my fellow academic writers, whose passion for advancing scientific progress is driven by the profound desire to enhance the well-being of patients. Your dedication is a true embodiment of the healing spirit. The field of oncology is ever-evolving, and it is your responsibility to shape its future. Seek out opportunities for research and innovation, for it is through these endeavors that you will advance the frontiers of knowledge and redefine what is possible. Your relentless pursuit of knowledge and innovation holds the potential to alleviate suffering and bring hope to those in need. You contribute to a collective effort that has the power to revolutionize healthcare, improve patient outcomes and quality of life. Stay curious, stay resilient, and continue to be the driving force behind the progress that shapes our world!

(By Xing Liu, Brad Li)

Rodrigo Nascimento Pinheiro

Rodrigo Nascimento Pinheiro obtained PhD and Master in Sciences from Escola Paulista de Medicina - UNIFESP, São Paulo, Brazil. He received training at the Brazilian National Cancer Institute - INCA as Surgical Oncologist. He serves as a Vice President of the Brazilian Society of Surgical Oncology - BSSO (2021-2023), Member of the Technical Chamber in Surgical Oncology of the Brazilian Federal Council of Medicine and Member of the Commission for the Brazilian Title of Specialist in Surgical Oncology - BSSO. He is also the Member of the European and American Societies of Surgical Oncology and Fellow of the Brazilian College of Surgeons - TCBC. Currently, he is the Supervisor of the Surgical Oncology Medical Residency and a Surgical Oncologist at the Surgical Oncology Service of the Base Hospital of the Federal District, Brasília, Brazil. Learn more about Dr. Pinheiro here and connect with him on LinkedIn.

From Dr. Pinheiro’s perspective, as the highest expression of science, academic writing is the most solid and democratic pathway for sharing experiences, doubts, and answers. And for social and health development, it may be considered the best way to mitigate the risks of mistakes or failures.

A good author, according to Dr. Pinheiro, should possess honesty of purpose and commitment to the best scientific method available. He highlights that researchers must remember that science is a doubt, a question, and its answer must be obtained with the least interference from personal beliefs, interests, or values. In his words, “I was lucky to find mentors who insisted on showing me this path of honesty with a purpose. Therefore, I have dedicated myself to fulfilling this mission of delivering honest answers, using a well-executed method, and avoiding prejudice or personal points of view as much as possible. This may seem obvious, but it is complex and challenging.”

To Dr. Pinheiro, the academic production and writing process might be beautiful; however, it is frequently difficult and painful, making many researchers give up along the way. “Additionally, we may even find peers and reviewers who may not fully understand our work and, sometimes, make criticisms not related to the proposed scientific academic scope,” adds he. In spite of the difficulties, to him, academic writing takes people with the beauty of the construction process, the beauty of sharing knowledge with the daily exercise of humility, and the beauty of knowing how to improve, grow, and contribute.

Speaking of the importance of ethical approval, Dr. Pinheiro admits science must continuously be reviewed and this process should never be omitted. In his opinion, the debate of ideas and the constant auditing of academic work can position researches within what should be considered an ethical and beneficial standard for the world. He emphasizes, “Without external auditing, authoritative debate, and deep self-reflection, our work will be exposed to biases and failure tendencies that are often part of our human condition.”

(By Xing Liu, Brad Li)

Zeba Siddiqui

Zeba Siddiqui is a resident in medical oncology at McMaster University, Canada. Prior to this, she finished training in internal medicine at University of Ottawa and went to medical school at University of Limerick, Ireland. She developed an interest in research while studying at University of Toronto where she obtained BSc (Hons). She started her journey in research by studying the behavior of disordered proteins which culminated in a publication in Nature. Following this, she involved herself in various different projects and more recently has been studying tumor budding in early-stage colon cancer and the role of biomarkers in predicting response to immunotherapy in triple negative breast cancer. Connect with Dr. Siddiqui on Twitter.

Knowledge is meaningless if not shared and applied,” says Dr. Siddiqui. To her, academic writing is a means of sharing innovative information and generating hypothesis content and also a great means of advancing professional development and promoting personal growth with experience and expert knowledge. Furthermore, academic writing allows for collaborative effort between like-minded individuals leading to great intellectual debates and discussion paving way for even greater ideas.

In Dr. Siddiqui’s opinion, manuscript preparation requires great thought and attention to detail. On the one hand, authors need to be mindful of the target audience and present data in a manner that captures the attention of the audience and meets them at an appropriate level.  On the other hand, they need to ensure that the manuscript contributes to existing knowledge in a meaningful way and offers innovative content. In other words, implications of the work need to be well understood and explained, the writing needs to be concise and the message needs to be delivered and presented clearly.

Dr. Siddiqui goes on to talk about her first writing experience for a biology course during her undergraduate period, “I was at such a loss. Fortunately, I heard of the Writing Centre at the university, where resources are available. Fast forward two, maybe three years and I was working as a Writing Peer Coach at the Writing Centre. Writing is a journey and perseverance is your friend.

Speaking of the importance of obtaining ethical approval, Dr. Siddiqui indicates that informed consent, confidentiality, justice and non-maleficence are just some examples of ethical standards. In her words, bodies like institutional review board are in place to ensure these standards are met in the design of a research and ensure rights of parties involved in research are protected. On the contrary, relying on stake holders alone leaves room for great ethical mishaps. “If this process is omitted, research participants are left vulnerable and, in a position where their welfare maybe compromised which is highly undesirable,” adds she.

(By Xing Liu, Brad Li)

Natalia S. Tissera

Natalia S. Tissera is a medical doctor. She graduated as a clinical oncologist at the Alexander Fleming Institute, Buenos Aires, Argentina. During the years of training, due to her strong interest in biliary and pancreatic tumors, she started writing scientific articles early. At the end of her residency, she obtained a master's degree in digestive oncology and did international clinical observerships at Memorial Sloan Kettering, New York, US and Mayo Clinic, Arizona, US as well as Vall'd Hebron Hospital, Barcelona, Spain. For the last 6 months, she has been volunteering in the Upper Gastrointestinal Cancer Translational Research Group of the Vall'd Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), Barcelona, Spain. Recently, she was awarded a fellowship to pursue her PhD in biliopancreatic tumors. Connect with Dr. Tissera on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Talking about the significance of academic writing, Dr. Tissera thinks it is a scientific and uniform way to communicate for the results of research. In her words, each published article, besides being a contribution to science, is undoubtedly the kick-off to continue improving knowledge on issues that remain unanswered. She believes that it is very useful to start academic writing early. According to her experience, proper feedback from mentors and reviewers can improve the writing remarkably. “The support of my mentors has been of great value when it comes to explaining doubts and correcting mistakes. Above all, I believe that it is essential that the reviewers are committed to a good return on the work done”, says Dr. Tissera.

To ensure one’s writing is critical, Dr. Tissera suggests researchers write results with objectivity, analyze the information from multi-perspectives and make sure research results reflect on the limitations which can contribute to encourage the development of new debates and new research projects.

To Dr. Tissera, writing is a never-ending journey and there is no end to learning. She shares a story when she was in her training as an oncologist, “When I wanted to write my first article, one of my mentors told me the following, ‘You have to have patience because getting a publication is a long road. No doubt that if you are perseverant and you like it, you will achieve it.’ That's how I got my first publication after being rejected by four different journals.” To her, in academic writing, the most fascinating thing is to write an article fluently by incorporating everything learned from the previous experience.

When it comes to Conflict of Interest (COI) declaration, Dr. Tissera thinks that it is an indispensable requirement to maintain transparency, objectivity, quality of research, and credibility of the readers. In her opinion, a COI can bias the results of the research when the paper is about a pharmacological agent in which the funding or relationship with the pharmaceutical company may influence the process or results of the research.

(By Xing Liu, Brad Li)

Chukwuyem Ekhator

Dr. Chukwuyem Ekhator, MBBS MPH, is an Émigré physician at the New York Institute of Technology, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Old Westbury, NY, USA. He is also a visiting research scholar with the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell Health University Hospital, Department of Neurological Surgery, Long Island NY. His areas of research include Neuro-oncology, Neurosurgery, Neuroradiology, and Medical Oncology.

Speaking of the role of academic writing, Dr. Ekhator believes it serves a pivotal role in science by facilitating the communication, dissemination, and advancement of knowledge. In his words, academic writing provides a structured platform for researchers to present their hypotheses, methodologies, findings, and conclusions in a clear and organized manner. Through peer-reviewed articles, research papers, and other scholarly publications, academic writing enables scientists to share their discoveries, establish credibility within the scientific community, and contribute to the cumulative growth of human understanding. Moreover, precise, and rigorous writing ensures that research can be scrutinized, replicated, and built upon, fostering a collaborative and iterative process that underpins the progress of scientific inquiry.

To ensure the relevance and novelty of his writing in the ever-evolving landscape of scientific advancement, Dr. Ekhator constantly engages with the latest research literature, attends conferences, and monitors reputable scientific news sources. He shares, “This proactive approach allows me to stay informed about cutting-edge discoveries, emerging trends, and paradigm shifts within various fields. By integrating these new insights into my writing and critically analyzing their implications, I strive to contribute fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the ongoing discourse, ultimately enriching the field of research with up-to-date and forward-thinking content.”

As a physician scientist with multifaceted responsibilities, although the work is heavy, Dr. Ekhator keeps allocating time for writing papers. To achieve this, he adopts a disciplined approach by carefully managing his schedule. He prioritizes tasks based on their urgency and importance, carving out dedicated periods for focused writing. For him, embracing efficient time management techniques helps to maintain concentration and productivity during writing sessions. Additionally, leveraging research club discussions also helps him optimize efforts, ultimately contributing to the successful creation of impactful papers.

When it comes to the importance of reporting guidelines, such as PRISMA and CARE, for authors during manuscript preparation, Dr. Ekhator thinks these guidelines provide a standardized framework that ensures transparency, rigor, and consistency in reporting research methodologies, results, and conclusions. In his opinion, by following these guidelines, authors enhance the credibility and reproducibility of their work, streamline the review process, and contribute to the overall quality of scientific literature. Additionally, adhering to reporting guidelines demonstrates a commitment to ethical research practices and responsible communication, fostering trust within the scientific community and facilitating the dissemination of accurate and reliable information.

(by Xing Liu, Brad Li)

Richard J. Bold

Dr. Richard J. Bold is a Surgical Oncologist with a focus on the treatment of pancreatic cancer. His research includes the development of new therapies for pancreatic cancer, but also the evaluation of outcomes and economics around healthcare delivery in pancreatic cancer. He is currently the Director of the Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center in Arizona, USA. Connect with Dr. Bold on Twitter.

To Dr. Bold, academic writing is important as it can advance the field of medicine, and one can change how healthcare is delivered through sharing of research and opinions.

Dr. Bold believes that the key skill sets of an author include the ability to communicate in a clear and concise fashion. Also, an author should be able to frame the current gap in knowledge and illustrate the attempt to fill in the gap. Furthermore, an author should demonstrate humility and respect; while invested in the dissemination of knowledge, he/she has to understand that it may not be completely accurate and allow for a fair exchange of perspectives and opinions.

Lastly, Dr. Bold would like to encourage all academic writers, “Rejection as an academic writer should not be viewed personally, as a journal or venue may simply have different objectives or priorities, or the audience may not be most appropriate for the manuscript. Keep trying because if the manuscript has some value, it will ultimately be published.”

(by Wei-En Fan, Brad Li)

Eduardo de Souza M. Fernandes

Dr. Eduardo Fernandes is a 49-year-old Professor of Surgery of Rio de Janeiro Federal University, Brazil and Chief of Department of Surgery at Rio de Janeiro Adventist Hospital and São Lucas Hospital – Copacabana. He did an extensive training abroad in USA, Japan, Korea and China, and had visited more than 25 Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary (HPB) centers all over the world. His main area of practice is in liver and pancreas surgery and liver transplantation. His center does over 220 liver transplants per year plus 150 HPB cancer cases. Visit the official website of Dr. Fernandes’s center.

Writing is everything,” says Dr. Fernandes. To him, if one stops writing, it means the absence of deep search in one’s career which we all need to keep our eyes open for new insights and different ideas. It also leads to the question - How to ensure one’s writing is up-to-date? In his view, the answer will be writing frequently and practice in complex surgical procedure. Deep reading process is the key of everything.

Data sharing is prevalent in scientific writing in recent years. On whether it is crucial for authors to share their research data, Dr. Fernandes says, “Authors sometimes don´t do much clinical work. Surgical science requires a combination of real work and real science. We need to provide more reliable data, stimulate surgeons to share the real data and publish their data even if the results are bad though most journals just want to publish the good data.”

(by Wei-En Fan, Brad Li)

Shamar Young

Shamar Young is currently an Associate Professor and Chief of Interventional Radiology at the University of Arizona. After graduating from the University of Florida Medical School, he finished a Diagnostic Radiology Residency at the University of Florida as well. He then went on to complete an Interventional Radiology Fellowship at the University of Minnesota, after which he joined the staff. During his time in Minnesota, he was able to develop and lead a strong clinical and translational research program in the Division of Interventional Radiology. He went on to become the head of Interventional Oncology at the University of Minnesota and also served in a number of other leadership positions. He accepted the position of Chief of Interventional Radiology at the University of Arizona in 2022 and continues in this position. He has published greater than 80 peer-reviewed articles, given numerous invited talks, and presented over 100 scientific abstracts. More information about Dr. Young can be found here.

To Dr. Young, academic writing provides the building blocks to allow providers to educate patients and make recommendations on treatment options.Every time a doctor prescribes medication, surgery, procedure or any other form of treatment or monitoring, such a recommendation is based on scientific writing. From his perspective, it is critical to all aspects of evidence-based medical care and affects thousands of patients every day.

Speaking of the good qualities of an author, Dr. Young deems that authors need to be students first, understanding the current evidentiary landscape as it relates to the topic of writing, allowing them to put the findings into context for the readers and helps them understand how these new data confirm, refute, or alter current thinking. They also need to remain objective, not only expressing the strengths but also carefully evaluating the weaknesses of their own works. Finally, they need to hone their skills at communication through the written word. He points out that it can be very difficult to construct an article that is easily digestible for readers, but for better or worse readability can directly affect the impact of an article, and this is because lack of readability leads to decreased digestion and implementation of the data presented.

While the clinical burden has increased for almost all academic physicians and physician scientists, the need for continuing research has also been emphasized. It can be very difficult to find time to dedicate to research, particularly as the non-patient facing burdens have dramatically increased over the past decades. However, given the importance of the mission, I wholeheartedly encourage my colleagues to continue to perform and communicate research. I believe one key is to try to move projects forward weekly if not daily, even if authors can only spend a few minutes. This prevents stagnation which can often lead to abandonment of projects. It is also helpful to look for help from those surrounding you in academic settings. Harnessing the energy of students and trainees can invigorate and ensure projects to be brought to completion,” says Dr. Young.

(by Sasa Zhu, Brad Li)