Editor’s note: Registration for ACR Convergence 2020 is now open.
Less than a year after becoming editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Eric Rubin, MD, PhD, found himself in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic. SARS-CoV-2-related submissions flooded the journal office at an unprecedented pace, making an impact on the journal’s operations and giving him a new perspective on the importance of communication.
Dr. Rubin chairs the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Boston. A recognized leader in infectious diseases, he is known for his groundbreaking tuberculosis research and his dedication to often neglected patient populations.
As the keynote speaker at ACR Convergence 2020 in November (which will be presented online via an entirely virtual format), Dr. Rubin will share his perspective on, and the importance of, communication during a pandemic.
The Impact of COVID-19
The Rheumatologist spoke with Dr. Rubin in late July about his experiences and what he plans to talk about in his keynote.
“At one point we were getting more than 200 COVID-19 articles, every day, seven days a week,” he says.
According to Dr. Rubin, the pandemic fueled an enormous volume of articles, stacking up more submissions in just a few months beginning in February than all of the previous year. Putting new systems in place to handle the unexpected spike in volume eventually calmed things down a bit, but the initial wave “felt overwhelming,” admits Dr. Rubin.
“We’re not a breaking news publication, but we had to get things out very quickly because a lot of what we published was only important if [it could be published in a timely manner] in the middle of the outbreak,” says Dr. Rubin.
That urgency put stress on the system, editors and staff, but it was nevertheless “a fascinating experience,” notes Dr. Rubin. Like the pandemic, the workload remained pretty much relentless as time marched on.
What to Expect
The variety of submissions Dr. Rubin and his staff received provided an abundance of material for his keynote speech, which will highlight various aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. He expects to cover the status of vaccines under development to treat the virus and the most promising therapeutic trials, as well as the role of immunity in vaccines, convalescent plasma and interventions of inflammatory cascades.