‘I can help people understand the importance of research & the clinical relevance of accurate & clear reporting of research.’ —Dr. Solomon
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Explore This IssueDecember 2019
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It would be ideal if the ACR journal websites could be a distribution point for rheumatologists looking for information, not just an article, but information about rheumatology and rheumatologic disease. Our websites can serve as more than just a repository of articles by becoming interactive, with easier-to-access information, using enhanced graphics and making the information more accessible for a greater audience.
Another important direction that we have discussed with the ACR’s Committee on Journal Publications is developing a new type of article that would provide expert guidance on relevant clinical topics. Right now, there are a lot of guidelines, and they can sometimes be difficult for the clinician to decipher. Our clinical readership is looking for easier to understand and digest expert opinions on how to diagnose and treat common patients in a rheumatology practice. Guidelines are rigorously prepared using top methods, but the products are sometimes difficult to apply in practice. This new type of article would be a collaboration with the ACR, determining the best topics and authors for giving guidance.
Another focus will be improving the author experience, especially the timeliness of review decisions. The current review times are relatively short, but I have ideas to improve this further.
TR: A&R has a new competitor in The Lancet Rheumatology. What might that mean for the journal?
Dr. Solomon: The rheumatology community welcomes another high-quality journal for people to publish in. The Lancet Rheumatology has the potential to be a competitor for certain articles we’d like to have published in A&R, but our impact factor has increased from seven to above nine, and I anticipate we will continue to be very selective in which articles are published in A&R. There’s no lack of good material, so I’m not overly concerned that there’s another good place to publish. I think that A&R has a reputation that The Lancet Rheumatology doesn’t have yet. Over time, it will hopefully develop a strong track record and become another excellent place to publish.
TR: How does A&R fit within the ACR’s family of publications, including AC&R, ACR Open Rheumatology (ACROR) and The Rheumatologist?
Dr. Solomon: A&R is the journal with the longest track record and the one with the highest impact factor. It has always been considered the gold standard journal for U.S. rheumatologists to publish in. But the others are incredibly important journals; they serve slightly different, complementary roles. ACROR is growing in stature and submissions. Of course, The Rheumatologist has a great reputation as well.
A&R has a broad scope of basic, translational and clinical science. It includes all the rheumatologic diseases, from common diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, to less common diseases, such as scleroderma. And it represents the global rheumatology research community, publishing articles from around the world. Most articles have hundreds, if not thousands, of downloads from people on every continent.
TR: You also teach, so how do you balance everything?
Dr. Solomon: I’ve had a lot of teaching roles at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and at Brigham. I used to run the musculoskeletal pathophysiology course for HMS, but I actually gave that up in anticipation of this role. I teach epidemiology classes and a variety of clinical science classes on drug safety at HMS and the Harvard School of Public Health. I teach residents on clinical topics in rheumatology and usually give several lectures each year on rheumatoid arthritis, gout and osteoporosis. I typically have between two and five trainees doing research with me, so much of my teaching is mentoring—helping people learn how to be successful researchers, from developing ideas for studies to executing studies.
I also co-direct a course in the Division of Rheumatology for clinical research, the VERITY/BWH Clinical Research Course; this spring will be the second year of the course. It is funded as part of an NIH [National Institutes of Health] grant that focuses on providing training and infrastructure support to clinical researchers in rheumatology. The course attracts trainees from around the country. They come for a week, and it’s like a boot camp for clinical research in rheumatology. In our first class, we had 15 students/trainees: some adult and some pediatric rheumatologists, as well as one medical resident.
Balancing teaching, researching and editing is a challenge. Being editor is a substantial time commitment. Because I’ve been deputy editor for the last four-plus years, I understand what the workload is and how to balance that with my administrative, teaching, research and patient activities. I will probably do less research of my own to fit in with the enhanced role of editor, but it’s something that’s required.
TR: How did you come to learn medical Spanish?
Dr. Solomon: I took Spanish in high school, and then in medical school I took medical Spanish. As a medical student, I traveled in Guatemala, and as a resident, I traveled in Honduras. In Honduras, I worked in the major teaching hospital in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, where no one spoke English. My Spanish improved quickly out of necessity. Now, I have a practice with about 50% Spanish-speaking patients.
TR: When you’re not practicing rheumatology, teaching, doing research or editing journal articles, how do you like to spend your time?
Dr. Solomon: I am the father of three teenage daughters, who keep me and my wife busy. My avocations are racket sports—I play tennis and platform tennis. And I bike a lot, so I stay active and fit doing those activities. We also travel a lot as a family.