Reviewer of the Month (2024)

Posted On 2024-01-29 10:22:10

In 2024, ATM reviewers continue to make outstanding contributions to the peer review process. They demonstrated professional effort and enthusiasm in their reviews and provided comments that genuinely help the authors to enhance their work.

Hereby, we would like to highlight some of our outstanding reviewers, with a brief interview of their thoughts and insights as a reviewer. Allow us to express our heartfelt gratitude for their tremendous effort and valuable contributions to the scientific process.

January, 2024
Elisa Belluzzi, University of Padova, Italy

February, 2024
John Maher, King's College London, UK

March, 2024
Robert W Keane, University of Miami, USA

May, 2024
Heather A Hartman, University of Michigan, USA

January, 2024

Elisa Belluzzi

Elisa Belluzzi is a molecular biologist with a PhD in biotechnologies. She is currently Assistant Professor at the Musculoskeletal Pathology and Oncology Laboratory, Department of Surgery, Oncology and Gastroenterology (DiSCOG), University of Padova. Her main research interests focus on musculoskeletal diseases, in particular osteoarthritis and bone cancer. Her studies are devoted on the characterization of the different OA joint tissues and on the identification of disease biomarkers. Moreover, she is actively involved in clinical studies. Connect with her on LinkedIn or learn more about her here.

In Dr. Belluzzi’s opinion, peer review is essential as it ensures the quality, accuracy, and credibility of academic research. Furthermore, she believes that every researcher should be engaged as a reviewer. Unfortunately, the reviewer does not receive recognition often, but his/her role is fundamental for the publication of high-quality articles.

Biases are inevitable in peer review and reviewers should be aware of their existence. Dr. Belluzzi thinks that the journals should set guidelines for the reviewers explaining the potential biases and how to deal with them. Knowing the various types of biases can help the reviewer to recognize them and thus minimize their influence during the review process. Moreover, she thinks that the journals should give recognition and incentives for those reviewers that provide high-quality reviews. This would encourage more people to be engaged in peer review and pay attention to biases. In addition, the opinion of more than one reviewer should be requested to reduce the risk of bias.

When Dr. Belluzzi reviews a manuscript, she reads it as if she was a reader and tries to understand if: i) the manuscript is clear; ii) the topic is of interest; iii) something is missing to be able to replicate the data; iv) the weak points are discussed; v) ethical committee approval is reported and vi) the statistical analysis is appropriate. She tries her best to give a useful and constructive feedback to the authors in order to improve the quality of the manuscript.

From a reviewer’s point of view, Dr. Belluzzi considers data sharing a crucial point in science. In particular, it is important to allow the data’s reproducibility, to enable further analysis promoting scientific development and discovery. The reviewer has a great responsibility in this context. Indeed, the reviewer should check whether authors have made the data available to readers.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

February, 2024

John Maher

Dr. John Maher is the scientific founder and chief scientific officer of Leucid Bio. He is also a clinical immunologist who leads the "CAR Mechanics" research group within King's College London. He played a key role in the early development of second generation (CD28) CAR technology while a visiting fellow at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, an approach that has achieved clinical impact in haematological malignancies. His research is focused on the development of adoptive immunotherapy using CAR engineered and gamma delta T-cells, with a primary emphasis on solid tumour types. In addition, he is a consultant immunologist at Eastbourne Hospital. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

In Dr. Maher’s opinion, peer review should be honest, objective and informed, leading to the improvement of the quality of a manuscript without being destructive. Reviewers should have relevant expertise and be free of conflicts of interest in respect of the submitted manuscript.

According to Dr. Maher, ultimately peer review is conducted by humans who work in a closely related area of research so it is unsurprising that bias will occur. This emphasizes the key role of the editor in assessing the merits of comments raised by reviewers during the peer-review process.

Annals of Translational Medicine is a respected journal which publishes high-quality content of direct relevance to my work on CAR T-cell immunotherapy,” says Dr. Maher.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

March, 2024

Robert W Keane

Dr. Robert W Keane is Professor of Physiology and Biophysics, Neurological Surgery and Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine. Over the last 30 years, his research has focused on understanding the innate immune response in the central nervous system. Dr. Keane is the discoverer of inflammasomes in neurons after central nervous system injury. He received a fast-track STTR grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a biologic to treat central nervous system injury, and has published extensively in fields of neuroinflammation and neuroimmunology. He is a founding member of InflamaCORE, LLC, a company dedicated to treating and diagnosing inflammatory injury and disease. Learn more about him here.

Dr. Keane thinks that peer review is needed to evaluate the validity, quality and originality of articles for publication. Its helps maintain integrity in science by weeding out poor-quality articles. Peer review also improves the quality of manuscripts that are accepted for publication and determines whether the article is sufficiently novel and warrants publication.

In Dr. Keane’s opinion, a healthy peer-review system should contain fairness of critical analysis of manuscripts; the selection of appropriate reviewers with relevant expertise; identifiable, publicly accountable reviewers; timely reviews, and helpful critical commentary.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

May, 2024

Heather A Hartman

Dr. Heather Hartman, MD, is a clinical instructor in the Department of Surgery and a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for firearm injury prevention at the University of Michigan. After earning a medical degree at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, she completed her general surgery residency at Temple University Hospital. During the academic time in her residency, she pursued research in fetal therapies including fetal gene editing. Next, she trained in pediatric surgical critical care at the University of Michigan. She is resuming her surgical training as a pediatric surgery fellow at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Delaware this year. Currently, her main areas of research include hospital-based violence prevention programs, secure storage of firearms in families with children, and management of pediatric trauma.

During Dr. Hartman’s research career, she thinks that spanning benchtop science to clinical-based trials, she has gained a deep appreciation for the value of the review process. As a researcher, the inquiries from reviewers and editors have often helped to refine her analysis and bring further clarity to an area of interest. Often, authors become so deeply knowledgeable about their topic that it becomes difficult to see where an item needs further explanation or an analysis could be re-worked to have an even more powerful impact. Even when reviewers may not fully agree with the study, the insightful questions and suggestions of reviewers allow for further refining of manuscripts so that high-quality research may be published.

To ensure the integrity of research, a clearly written methods section is vital,” Dr. Hartman says. As a researcher, Dr. Hartman will often use the methods section of prior works to guide the design process for new projects, so it is critical to include all relevant methods, which may require an online supplement. The review process is also important for ensuring that the limitations of the research, not just the strengths, be clearly identified, including which specific populations the research does and does not apply to. Similarly, any funding sources, including grants, and potential conflicts of interest should be disclosed.

As a reviewer, Dr. Hartman strives to give constructive feedback, pointing out areas where perhaps something could be re-worded to be clearer or an analysis could be expanded to strengthen the manuscript. While reviewers may not always agree with the design and purpose of a manuscript, it is important to remember that there is another person(s) who spent considerable time and effort with this study and that feedback should be framed in a positive, constructive manner.

Time management is critical. Being a reviewer is not a laborious process, usually just thirty minutes to an hour, but, out of respect to the authors and the journal, it must be completed in a timely manner. I only accept invitations to review when I know I have the time to commit. Often, reviewer comments can be accomplished in a brief paragraph, although on occasion a more detailed response may be warranted,” says Dr. Hartman.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)