Today we bring you the second of the three new Co-Editors-in-Chief of FEMS Pathogens and Disease: Associate Professor Alfredo Garzino-Demo from the Institute of Human Virology, and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, USA; and at the University of Padova.
While previously announced Co-Editor-in-Chief Willa Huston brings her expertise of bacterial microbiology to the editorial team, Alfredo’s research program is focused on the pathogenesis of HIV infection, and on novel therapeutic approaches to treatment and cure of the infection. His work has contributed to identify populations of cells that are highly permissive to HIV infection, and uncovered means to protect such cell populations.
We interviewed Alfredo to give you some insights into his research, his career, and his work with the FEMS Journals:
What encouraged you to pursue a career in the field of microbiology?
”Like many things in my life, it was not a straightforward pathway. The two fields that interested me 30 years ago (and now) were neurobiology and oncology. I eventually picked oncology, and for my graduate training, I joined a hematology/oncology laboratory. I was interested in studies that just started in my mentor’s lab, on the lymphomas that occur at significantly higher rates in HIV-infected people. However, we did not know much about viruses. Since my mentor was in contact with colleagues in the laboratory of Robert Gallo, then a lab chief at NIH/NCI, I was offered to join his lab as a fellow. That experience completely changed my scientific direction, and I eventually found myself dealing with virology much more than with oncology.”
What inspired you to get involved with Pathogens and Disease, and what have been the highlights so far?
”I was initially asked to serve as a handling editor. That experience made me reflect on how we deal with data in general, and how we can improve on making research data available to the public and how to maximize its impact, while weeding out bad and/or irrelevant information.”
What do you think are the challenges being faced in the field today?
”The main challenge is the sheer amount of information that is generated and how to handle it. 2,500,000 scientific articles are published every year, in about 28,000 journals; the number of publications doubles every 9 years (and I suspect we will see even faster growth).
To understand the consequences of that amount of information, we can think of the similar phenomenon that occurred in daily news, and the rapid growth of available news outlets and sources. Some of the sources are good and reliable, some are not, and even good sources sometimes get polluted with bad information. That is to be expected, and poses the problem of how to sort out the bad information.
The current system of review poses a significant strain on reviewers, that are already “maxed out” by the many activities that compose the life of a scientist. The other big challenge is how can a journal find its own niche and stand out in an overcrowded field.”
How do you see this field/the journal developing in the future?
”In my opinion, the entire field will eventually go through an overhaul. Today, journals still follow the same peer review procedures that were used 50 years ago. I think we will see more and more open review types of publications, pre-publication websites, and post-publication feedback. In addition, something needs to be done to make negative data, which currently are the kiss of death for publications, available to scientists. Negative data are inherently less biased than positive data and allow scientist to avoid testing hypotheses that have already been tested and not confirmed. This knowledge needs to be made public.”
How would you describe Pathogens and Disease in three words?
”Bugs News Channel”
Do you think there are misconceptions regarding Pathogens and Disease – if so, what?
”The main issue in my opinion is not a misconception, it is that not enough colleagues know about the journal; this is particularly true in the field of virology. The lack of awareness about Pathogens and Disease results in some authors thinking this is an “easy” journal, which is not the case. Look through the archives, there is a treasure trove of interesting articles.”
What advice would you give to today’s early career researchers?
”I would recommend learning to master one technology; unfortunately, in the 21st century science is not so much about ideas and hypotheses, but what technology you can use to address the idea and/or hypotheses. I would also suggest that for getting funded they address “mainstream” hypotheses. But then in the lab challenge the status quo. Look more closely at the experiment that “went wrong” than the one that “went well”. If there seem to be no solution to a problem, do exactly the opposite of what everybody else is doing. Once a year, try an experiment that you think is totally crazy. In almost all cases nothing will come out it, but please give me a call if it works somehow.”
What is your favourite microbe, and why?
“Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It has helped many scientists, including myself, getting over defeats and celebrating accomplishments.”
Check out our video on Saccharomyces cerevisiae from our #52Microorganisms series below:
Happy #MicrobeMonday everyone 🙂
This one of the #52Microorganisms has certainly had one of the largest impacts on humankind over its history…
— FEMS (@FEMSTweets) February 18, 2019