Interviews with Outstanding Authors (2023)

Posted On 2023-02-16 08:42:00

In 2023, many 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 perspectives and insightful views as authors.

Outstanding Authors (2023)

Hanna Siiskonen, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland

Antonino Amato, BetaGlue Technologies SpA, Italy

Kian C. Banks, UCSF East Bay, USA

Jimmy T. Efird, Case Western Reserve University, USA

Yoshihiko Manabe, Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Japan

Hooman Soleymani majd, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, UK

Leonardo Alfonso Bustamante-Lopez, Surgical Health Outcomes Consortium (SHOC), Digestive Health and Surgery Institute, USA

Min-Woong Kang, Chungnam National University Hospital/School of Medicine, South Korea

Kohei Hashimoto, The Cancer Institute Hospital, Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, Japan

Evert F. S. van Velsen, Erasmus Medical Center, The Netherlands

Justin Taylor, University of Miami Miller, USA

Hanna Siiskonen

Dr. Hanna Siiskonen, MD, PhD, MSc (molecular biology), is a specialist in dermatology and allergology. Currently, she specializes in pathology at the Kuopio University Hospital (KUH), Finland. Her research group led by Prof. Ilkka Harvima at the Department of Dermatology, KUH and University of Eastern, Finland, investigates the pathogenesis and epidemiology of skin cancers. A few years ago, they established a regional skin cancer prevention program in Eastern Finland. The aim of the program is to explore the epidemiology and to find novel preventive measures for skin cancers. In research, Dr. Siiskonen deals with the follow-up program and studies the role of mast cells in melanoma.

In Dr. Siiskonen’s opinion, a good academic paper is a well written and concise entity. It has a well-defined research question that has its background clearly explained. Materials and methods are up to date and written out in sufficient detail. Results are presented with clarifying tables and figures. Discussion should keep its focus too and compare the current results to previous data. The discussion should state what the current results add to our knowledge on the topic and also speculate the possible future steps. Perhaps the speculations could be even more open-minded to really allow for new research ideas, broad scientific communication on the topic and innovations.

To ensure one’s writing is critical, Dr. Siiskonen believes it is very important that one tries to stay objective. Acknowledging the fact that it is difficult to be critical of one’s writing helps one to stay alert. One should evaluate one’s writing continuously when writing. It is also good to take a break from one project and the writing process every now and then and to focus on something else. After the break, the text may be easier to observe critically and modify accordingly. In addition, writing the paper together with the research group helps as the text is modified by many. Lastly, she believes the review process of journals aids in developing a critical view of one’s writing.

From an author’s perspective, Dr. Siiskonen highlights that it is important for authors to follow reporting guidelines (e.g. STROBE, PRISMA and CARE) during the preparation of manuscripts. Those guidelines improve the quality of scientific papers and improving quality should be something we always aim at. They also ensure that necessary aspects of reporting are considered. As the guidelines help ensure the high quality of papers, which are the public products of our work, they also make scientific papers more reliable and hopefully are taken into account when research funding and other resources are allocated. Keeping those guidelines in mind already from the start helps the reporting process.

Research should be fun and rewarding. It is usual that you must work hard and wait for the progress. At its best, the progress is worth the work. I think that the focus should not be that much on defined end points and big goals but rather on the small steps, solving problems and finding solutions. Research should be team work with nice peers. As the old saying goes, one should aim at enjoying the journey and who one travels with and not just the destination. Research should not be the only focus in one’s life. Having also other interests keeps things, and life, in their reasonable perspective,” says Dr. Siiskonen.

(By Brad Li, Teresa Lin)

Antonino Amato

Dr. Antonino Amato is a CEO at Pincell Srl, Italy, and a CEO/CMO at BetaGlue Technologies SpA, Italy. He has grown his career from the area of clinical development and R&D to general management, including C-type executive positions, both in the setting of a multinational pharmaceutical company and in that of a leading Italian university hospital. He has covered roles as the Chief Medical Officer, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer. He always builds on his previous experience, adds new skills and expertise, and learns from different cultural environments in Europe and the United States. His mission has always been to build new and innovative departments, business units or companies, striving to accomplish their goals and objectives, while growing their employees by putting them in an effective and harmonious working environment. He has exposure to several clinical indications and therapeutic areas (mostly oncology, surgical oncology, cardiovascular, and rare diseases). Connect with Dr. Amato on LinkedIn.

Dr. Amato thinks academicians are at the very heart of science as their mission is intrinsically based on science and truth. He considers academic writing is genetically part of himself, and his utmost interest is to investigate and communicate areas of medicine. He tries to keep himself up-to-date with the advances in science, by regularly reading leading medical journals, attending and presenting at medical conferences, authoring medical papers, and accessing online medical platforms. Regarding the reporting guidelines (e.g. STROBE, CONSORT, and PRISMA) during the preparation of manuscripts, he does feel it is absolutely critical since adherence to such international standards allows not only the improvement of quality of the reported medical studies but also their thorough comparability.

(by Masaki Lo, Teresa Lin)

Kian C. Banks

Dr. Kian C. Banks is currently on a research fellowship through his home institution, UCSF-East Bay, USA. He obtained his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA, in 2013 and his medical degree at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, USA, in 2018. As part of his current fellowship, he works closely with Dr. Jeffrey Velotta, a thoracic surgeon at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center, USA. Their recent focuses within thoracic outcome research have included disparities in thoracic surgery, outcomes/characteristics among patients who have never smoked, and the optimal time to surgery to improve oncologic outcomes. Connect with Dr. Banks on Twitter.

Dr. Banks thinks academic writing is essential because it is the language researchers use to transmit scientific findings to readers. Without a clear and concise way of explaining the findings, the impact or message of the findings can be lost or misinterpreted. He further elaborates that the data may be excellent, but if not presented well, important points may be missed.

In order to ensure the writing is critical, Dr. Banks thinks first of all, it is crucial to know what one’s research adds to the field. He points out that this must be made entirely clear to the readers by showing the current gap in literature and how the present study fills that gap. Second, it is also important to understand the experience level of the primary audience for the paper being written. In this way, time can be saved on explaining the background information that the readership may already be familiar with. References should be made to prior literature, but the point of the paper should not be a literature review in addition to presenting a new study. Third, he points out it is just as important to understand and state the limitations of the study. This helps guide readers in interpreting results and trying to understand how they can be applied to clinical practice. Authors should strive to avoid overstating their results and rather present the data clearly so that the results can speak for themselves. Finally, he says, after completing a draft, the comments of the study’s co-authors are critical. Not only do the co-authors bring their own writing experience, but they also offer a fresh set of eyes. Viewing their comments or edits objectively and using them constructively tend to lead to a much more polished paper.

Speaking of time allocation for writing papers, Dr. Banks shares that when he is clinically active, the key to continuing to write is consistency. Allocating time for writing at least once a week helps maintain the progress. It is important to understand that one is not likely to sit down and write an entire manuscript in one session. Breaking the process down into smaller, easier-to-tackle pieces can help. He gives examples like collecting references, writing different parts such as the methods or the results, etc. are smaller tasks that can be easier and less daunting to tackle when time is limited.

Finally, regarding data sharing, Dr. Banks thinks it presents exciting possibilities for research to move forward. The sharing of data allows for greater transparency and likely more collaboration. However, he emphasizes that there are several important considerations, “The process should be standardized as much as possible to avoid misinterpretation of results. Also, patient privacy must be protected at all costs and the sharing of such clinical data likely warrants approval by the necessary ethics committee as well as the institution where the research is performed,” he says.

(by Masaki Lo, Teresa Lin)

Jimmy T. Efird

Dr. Jimmy T. Efird completed his Doctorate in Epidemiology at Stanford University School of Medicine, USA, and has over 30 years of experience in the fields of cancer research, cardiovascular sciences, biostatistics, epidemiology, and informatics. He has worked at Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard Medical School), UCSF School of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, University of Hawaii (JABSOM), and the University of Newcastle, Australia (Professor and Director, Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics). Currently, he is a Professor (adjunct) in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine as well as the Chief Statistician for the Cooperative Studies Program Coordinating Center, VA Boston, USA. His areas of interest are epidemiological risk assessment and statistical modelling. He has over 300 publications and technical reports, which have been cited over 12,500 times (i10-index=150, h-index=60). Learn more about Dr. Efird on Google Scholar.

Speaking of the role of academic writing in science, Dr. Efird thinks it is an obligation and honor for being able to contribute to the academic literature. “Publishing one’s research is instrumental in the advancement of science,” says he. He would like to pay tribute to the many mentors who have helped train him as a researcher, which motivates him to keep on as an academic writer.

In order to ensure the writing is up-to-date, Dr. Efird would attend seminars and conferences on challenging and interesting topics of current importance. Equally important in academic writing is disclosure of Conflict of Interest (COI), which he thinks is essential as that involves financial benefits which may compromise the integrity of one’s research.

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Yoshihiko Manabe

Yoshihiko Manabe, MD, PhD, is specialized in radiation oncology at Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, Japan. His research group led by Professor Yuta Shibamoto investigated radiation biology related to radiotherapy and radiosensitizers. He once had the opportunity to research on radiosensitizers related to immunology and wrote the paper with researchers in Nagoya City University and Osaka University. He has also researched on intensity-modulated radiotherapy and stereotactic radiotherapy using tomotherapy and cyberknife for various tumors. Recently, he has focused on stereotactic body radiotherapy for the treatment of localized prostate cancer in Nanbu Tokushukai Hospital, Okinawa, Japan.

Dr. Manabe thinks writing papers leads to new insights, and these insights accumulate to create major breakthroughs. This breakthrough triggers further development in the field of research, creating a cycle in which many related papers are written, and contributes to the advancement of science. And from his point of view, when useful data/techniques are obtained, sharing it with other physicians or researchers can save patients around the world. The information can only be shared with a limited number of people at conferences, but published papers can be accessed by many others around the world at any time. That is the value for writing academic paper.

Dr. Manabe points out that in order to keep the writing up-to-date, researchers can attend different conferences for learning about recent topics. And by searching for literature online, they can gather information on the current state and issues in the field. “Recently, open-AI chat has become available, and it would be useful for collecting huge amount of information efficiently,” says he.

Finally, on disclosure of Conflict of Interest (COI) by authors, Dr. Manabe thinks it is important as it can affect the study design, the interpretation of the results, and discussions. He explains, “COI might lower the quality of the research in some ways. However, researches require resources such as fundings and materials like drugs. For studies with the association of new drugs in particular, it cannot be progressed without the cooperation of the drug companies from which the new drugs are being provided for research. Authors should inform readers of these aspects by disclosing the COI.”

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Hooman Soleymani majd

Dr. Hooman Soleymani majd is a consultant in Gynaecological Oncology at the Churchill Hospital, London, UK. He started his obstetrics and gynaecology career in London, before moving to Oxford and completing a structured postgraduate training programme, including three years of sub-specialty training in gynaecological oncology. He is a BSCCP accredited colposcopist and trainer. He has a special interest in developing new surgical techniques for gynaecological malignancies including ultra-radical surgery for advanced ovarian cancer and radical pelvic exenteration operations. His skill set includes upper abdominal surgery, liver mobilisation and diaphragmatic reconstruction. He is a member of the Oxford sarcoma team and has a particular interest in treating patients with Placenta Accreta Spectrum (PAS); he is a founding member and the surgical lead for the OxPAT group. He is actively involved in teaching registrars/fellows and medical students from the Oxford University. He is well published and has been an invited speaker at several international congresses, where he has often carried out live surgeries. He is on the editorial board of numerous peer-reviewed journals. Learn more about Dr. Soleymani majd here and connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Dr. Soleymani majd thinks it is crucial for academic authors to be honest, transparent, and strictly adhering to the pillars of clinical governance and research ethics, including protection of patient confidentiality. Authors should carefully select a topic of their interest, ensuring it is pertinent to the current clinical needs and relevant to the audience. Authors should also demonstrate their ability to critically appraise the existing evidence. They should have an evidence-based medical practice and be fully familiar with the principles employed by robust systematic reviews like Cochrane, in order to incorporate these principles to their own published work.

From an author’s perspective, Dr. Soleymani majd thinks it is important to follow reporting guidelines (e.g. STROBE or CONSORT) during preparation of manuscripts as they are a means to help screen out low-quality medical research and provide reviewers with greater assurance of precision medicine.

Finally, Dr. Soleymani majd shares with us some impressive episodes from his experience of academic writing: “Severe placenta accreta spectrum (PAS) is a complication of pregnancy, which is associated with significant maternal morbidity and mortality affecting mothers in the reproductive age group. This condition is normally treated by utilizing multiple allied specialties including interventional radiologists. Our team in Oxford pioneered and developed a new concept, where we incorporated the use of gynaecological oncology surgical skills into the obstetric setting to safely manage patients with severe PAS. This innovative approach has replaced traditional treatment modalities, which has resulted in more transverse incisions, less blood loss and avoiding the need of ICU admissions. My colleague, Professor Sally Collins and I, developed this technique and successfully published our results in one of the leading Obstetrics & Gynaecology journals in the world.”

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Leonardo Alfonso Bustamante-Lopez

Dr. Leonardo Bustamante-Lopez, MD, PhD, is a post-doctoral research fellow at Adventhealth Colorectal Medical Group, Orlando, USA. He is a general surgeon at Chiquinquira Hospital, La Universidad del Zulia, Maracaibo, Venezuela and a colorectal surgeon at Sao Paulo University, Brazil. Connect with Dr. Bustamante-Lopez on Twitter.

To Dr. Bustamante-Lopez, academic and clinical papers are the best way of communication between scientists and physicians, making academic writing an irreplaceable role in the advancement of science. In the process of academic writing, he would try to involve and participate in both the internal and external discussions on the protocol of the study, in order to figure out the best methodology for proving the hypothesis, and at the same time, to avoid possible biases. In the process of proving the hypothesis, data sharing is prevalent to Dr. Bustamante-Lopez. “I think all the readers should be able to understand and prove the results of the important studies, but it is very important to keep safe and protect the identity of the patients and institution(s),” says he. Finally, when being asked of the reason(s) for choosing to publish with TCR, he thinks the journal itself is excellent, and the way through the publishing process is effective and efficient.

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Min-Woong Kang

Dr. Min-Woong Kang is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery at Chungnam National University/Hospital in South Korea. He also serves as an adjunct/visiting professor in the BENMD project, at Mass General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, in the US. After completing his M.D. and Ph.D. at Chungnam National University, he had his fellowship trained at Samsung Medical Center specializing in thoracic oncologic surgery. Upon the completion of the fellowship training, he moved back to Chungnam National University to work as a professor, where he has continued his clinical work in the thoracic oncologic field and lung cancer surgery since then. He is the first surgeon in South Korea to use the electromagnetic navigation system for minimally invasive surgery in early lung cancer diagnosis and treatment. He has the largest case of ENB-guided surgery in the field in Asia, with up to 100 cases per year. Dr. Kang has also developed a novel asymmetrical linear staple device (the NALS, at Meditulip, at which he serves as the CEO) for obtaining true resection margin tissue for frozen section biopsy during minimally invasive cancer surgery operation, which cannot be acquired with conventional surgical staple devices. KFDA has already granted the approval, and he recently started the process of applying for the US-FDA certification. In the scientific field, he actively collaborates with MGH/HMS, to develop a novel treatment agents and device for treating solid cancer.

To Dr. Kang, academic writing holds significant importance in the eyes of clinicians and surgeons as it allows them to share their clinical experiments, which ultimately benefits the patients. He believes the genuine value lies at the core of academic writing in the field of medical science. He often expresses to his students that the purpose behind their research is to aid those in need within the community. “Another important aspect of academic writing is the transmission of our experiences and knowledge to the next generation. This sense of purpose motivates me to persist in my academic writing endeavors,” shares he.

In addition, Dr. Kang shares his practice when he writes papers. “To avoid bias in my own writing, I seek input not only from my colleagues but also from my coworkers within the hospital, as well as my students. Reflecting on the Tenerife accident that occurred in 1977 at Tenerife airport, it becomes evident that the disaster was a result of communication problems. The lack of conversation between the Captain and the Vice-captain caused a critical breakdown in the authority. To prevent such incidents, it is essential that we engage in thorough discussions with our colleagues and coworkers. I believe this principle holds true for academic writing as well, serving as a means to avoid errors and biases.”

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Kohei Hashimoto

Kohei Hashimoto is a thoracic surgeon and researcher at Kyorin University, Tokyo, Japan. His research interests include clinical research of lung cancer, utility of AI for lung cancer diagnosis, and 3D surgical airway models for simulation and training. His clinical focus is minimally invasive approach for lung cancer, thymoma and extended resection for thoracic malignancies. Connect with Dr. Hashimoto on Twitter.

Dr. Hashimoto, as a fan of ice-hockey, shares his favourite quote from the legendary player, Wayne Gretzky, who once said “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been”. He believes this also applies to the preparation of scientific papers, especially in the rapidly changing field of lung cancer. In order to ensure one’s writing is critical, he thinks it is crucial to apply appropriate statistics and it is therefore sometimes helpful in working with a statistician. He shares tips that in presenting the results of a research, it should be focused on describing what was obtained instead of having too much interpretation. In clinical science, he believes it is always important to follow reporting guidelines. By doing so, the rights of patients could be protected.

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Evert F. S. van Velsen

Dr. Evert van Velsen is an internist-endocrinologist at the Department of Internal Medicine at the Erasmus Medical Center (Rotterdam, The Netherlands). He studied Computer Sciences at the Utrecht University, and both Clinical Epidemiology and Medicine at the Erasmus University, Rotterdam. In 2022, he defended his PhD thesis, which focused on prognosis and prognostic factors of differentiated thyroid cancer. His current research is focused on osteoporosis, and rare bone and (para)thyroid disorders. Both his clinical and research work are embedded within the Erasmus MC Bone Center.

Speaking of the importance of academic writing, Dr. van Velsen points out that while performing valid and sound research is important, writing down the results of the research in a clear and concise way is even so as otherwise key messages may be missed. In order to avoid biases in one’s writing, he thinks it is very important to try to stay objective and be critical on one’s own research and writing. “The value of the comments of the study’s co-authors are critical as they offer a new set of eyes on the writing style,” says he.

Finally, from an author’s perspective, Dr. van Velsen gives credits to reporting guidelines such as STROBE or CONSORT as they aim to improve the quality of scientific papers, and quality is what we should aim at.

(by Masaki Lo, Brad Li)

Justin Taylor

Justin Taylor, MD, is a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Medicine and member of the Translational and Clinical Oncology program at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. The Taylor lab studies the role of recurrent mutations in hematologic malignancies and how to target them with novel therapeutics using animal modeling, molecular biology, and single-cell genomic techniques. His lab’s recent focus is on inhibitors of nuclear export and overcoming BTK inhibitor resistance mechanisms using BTK protein degraders. Dr. Taylor holds a faculty position in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology where he sees patients with hematologic malignancies. He completed a residency in Internal Medicine at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and a Hematology/Oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering. He is the principal investigator on grants sponsored by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Edward P. Evans Foundation for MDS. More information can be found here. You may connect with Dr. Taylor on Twitter/X and LinkedIn.

According to Dr. Taylor, a good academic paper should be like reading a story. The introduction needs to get the reader hooked and let them know why they should continue reading. It is a good way to place this paper in the context of what has been previously studied and give an interpretation of how this changes the field. The discussion should be more than a recitation of the results. It should give a critical view of the results presented including limitations, comparisons to similar studies and list the still unanswered questions to be tackled next.

To avoid biases in the writing, Dr. Taylor thinks Orthogonal methods of testing the same hypothesis should be used to confirm and validate findings. Unbiased methods like drug screens, genetic screens or genomic sequencing should be paired with targeted assays and validations. When writing up the results, the authors should think of how someone might be reading the paper in a decade or longer when newer technology may exist and the results should be robust enough to stand the test of time. If the results have limitations of their robustness or rigor, those should be pointed out clearly and convey to the reader that the data may suggest a certain conclusion, but more studies would be needed to confirm these conclusions.

Dr. Taylor enjoys writing, reading, reviewing, editing and the whole academic writing process a lot. From his perspective, it is fascinating to see discoveries and especially gratifying when they are written and displayed in an elegant and understandable manner. “I especially enjoy writing with students, fellows and junior faculty and teaching them about the writing process. It’s important for them to write a first draft and get edits, comments, and critiques to help them improve. Then to watch the drafts get better until the final draft is written is very gratifying. Passing down the best techniques for academic writing to the younger generation ensures that the literature will stay of high quality in the future,” says he.

Dr. Taylor stresses that it is important to report financial conflicts of interest (COIs) even if they may be just perceived conflict. This allows readers to interpret the writing and research in light of these conflicts. Often, the financial disclosure of a relationship between an author and a pharmaceutical company may not be related to the topic of the paper or may not influenced the research but it is still important to report. In some cases, there is a direct influence, for example, if the authors are employees of the company but that doesn’t mean the research can’t be trusted. Such papers should be held to the same standard as those from academic authors and evaluated for scientific merit.

(by Christie Lv, Brad Li)