Letter From the JCTS Editor: AI in the wings
Writing a monthly letter may soon be considered completely outdated and more reminiscent of the dark ages. The way Artificial Intelligence (AI) is progressing it might only be a matter of time before a robot is putting together a much more eloquent message than yours truly. But we are not quite there yet so this will still represent a regular update. Nevertheless, it is certainly appropriate for us to reflect on how AI might impact research and innovation. We have all been witness to the explosion in the field of informatics and the incredible power of big data sets as well as the considerable challenges in keeping such information secure. This month represents the 30th anniversary of my move from Sweden to the US and my first experience of the NIH GCRC program. At that time, the informatics component in the program was viewed primarily as a service unit and from this basis it has grown to become a necessity for many research initiatives and one of the successes of the CTSA program. The COVID pandemic clearly illustrated the importance of having a strong integrated data network across the nation such as that developed through the CTSA program, and it seems likely this type of integration will be a fertile field for AI applications. The potential role of AI in advancing science has attracted considerable interest and thought. In one recent perspective, a team of scientists from Germany, Canada, China and the US discussed various ways in which AI might be part of the scientific discovery process (Krenn et al, Nat Rev Physics, 4, 761, 2022). In their conclusion they suspected “that significant future progress in the use of AI to acquire scientific understanding will require multidisciplinary collaborations between natural scientists, computer scientists and philosophers of science”. As this type of interdisciplinary nexus as well as the ambition to serve as honest brokers is integral to CTSAs and translational science centers, it certainly illustrates the opportunity for the clinical and translational science community to play a catalyzing role. We will see what the future brings.
In the meantime, we are pleased to see a continued strong interest in JCTS. The submission dates for several of our calls for thematic issues have now closed and many of these calls have generated strong interest. We encourage anyone interested in contributing to the open call for Integration of Social Determinants of Health with Clinical and Translational Science thematic issue to submit papers in response to the call. The closing date for submission is at the end of July but we are open to be flexible with regard to any late contributions. We have also received inquiries from colleagues expressing interest in developing additional thematic issues so further opportunities for submissions might arise. As always, the majority of our submissions do not relate to any thematic issue and we are always open for any submission in the broad area of clinical and translational science.
So far this year, the overall JCTS submission rate is similar to that of last year, which represented a record year for new submissions. We continue to work hard to respond to every submission in a timely matter and we are very grateful to our reviewers who provide insightful and valuable suggestions to the authors. As the number of submissions continue to be high, we encourage all our colleagues in the clinical and translational science community to serve as a reviewer. We realize that we all have lots on our plates and that JCTS is not the only publication that is asking for assistance. However, as many of us are authors as well, we all benefit from, and indeed depend on, the community spirit of colleagues that take on the task to review submissions. Without their commitment, the system we all depend on would start to crumble – unless of course, in a futuristic scenario, we might be able to use AI resources to facilitate this function. But until that time, we will depend on review contributions from our community of scientists.
However, there is also the work-life balance to consider. As we now are getting into the summer season, we hope there will be some opportunities for relaxation and to get some well-earned time off. All of us at JCTS wish you a relaxing summer and welcome everyone back to an exciting fall.
Lars Berglund, M.D., Ph.D., FAHA
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Clinical and Translational Science (JCTS)
NIH Seeks Input on Challenges and Opportunities for the Further Development and Use of Novel Alternative Methods
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking public input on challenges and opportunities for the further development and use of novel alternative methods (NAMs) in biomedical research. Input received from this request will inform the NIH and the development of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (ACD)’s recommendations on high-priority areas for future investment in NAMs. Comments on the Request for Information must be submitted by August 16, 2023 through the online comment portal found at: https://osp.od.nih.gov/request-for-information-rfi-catalyzing-the-development-and-use-of-novel-alternative-methods-to-advance-biomedical-research. The ACD Working Group on Novel Alternative Methods will also be hosting an expert workshop on August 21, 2023. The agenda for this meeting along with videocast information will be posted to the OSP website later this summer.
For additional context on the NAMs issue, please see the latest Under the Poliscope blog here.
Questions may be sent to SciencePolicy@od.nih.gov. Also, please consider following us on Twitter @NIH_OSP.
Lasker Clinical Research Scholars Program
The National Institutes of Health, in partnership with the Lasker Foundation, is pleased to announce the 2023-24 Lasker Clinical Research Scholars Program. The program supports clinical researchers in the early stages of their independent careers. Lasker Scholars are appointed as tenure-track investigators in the NIH Intramural Research Program for 5 years, followed by 3 years of funding at an extramural research institution (up to $500,000 direct costs per year) or continued appointment in the intramural program. Candidates must have a clinical doctoral degree and a professional license to practice in the United States, and cannot already have obtained tenure at a research institution. The application deadline is August 25, 2023.
More information can be obtained at the Lasker Scholar website, or by contacting Dr. Charles Dearolf at LaskerScholar@nih.gov.
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Translational Science 2024 -- Save the Date!
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Translational Science Today
Parks receives 2023 Edwin Bierman Award for diabetes research
Elizabeth Parks, PhD, professor of nutrition and exercise physiology and the Associate Director of the Clinical Research Center at the Institute for Clinical Translational Science, awarded the 2023 Edwin Bierman Award for contributions to diabetes research.