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Produced by Students, Widely Respected in the Scientific Community

October 8, 2018
Photo by Robert A. Lisak
Co-editors-in-chief Helen Beilinson and Fatima Mirza work with the YJBM editorial team to produce quarterly issues of the journal.

Milton C. Winternitz, MD, is perhaps best known for creating the Yale system during his tenure as dean at the School of Medicine. Less widely known is another important contribution: The creation of the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine (YJBM) in 1928. Originally intended to showcase student research theses and familiarize students with scientific writing and publication, today, YJBM—whose editorial board is composed of graduate, medical, and other professional students—is a highly respected peer-reviewed journal that is among the top 14 percent of biomedical journals in the world.

Under the direction of faculty advisor Jeffrey Bender, MD, a distinguished faculty advisory board, and editorial coordinator Kate Woodford, current co-editors-in-chief Helen Beilinson, a fifth-year PhD student in immunobiology, and Fatima Mirza, a third-year medical student, supervise a dedicated team of deputy editors and manuscript editors. The team publishes four issues per year on topics ranging from basic science to public health policy. Part of YJBM’s success is likely due to its focus on themed issues, allowing for a deep and broad exploration of topics that appeals to scientists and non-scientists alike. Topics are chosen by and voted on by the editorial board; judging by the increase in readership and quality since this format was adopted in 2015, their vision of impactful subject matter is well-aligned with trends in science and medicine. The types of articles are as varied as the themes. They include original research articles on medical or scientific advances; case reports describing unusual disease presentations, new treatments and diagnostic methods, unexpected drug interactions, or difficult diagnoses; reviews of research subjects in biology and medicine; perspectives of personal views on biomedical topics; in-depth analyses of policies, major advances, or the history of a topic; symposium pieces; book reviews; profiles; and interviews.

YJBM is professional in every aspect and stands out as the only student-run publication to be indexed on PubMed. For its medical and graduate student editors, it provides an unparalleled learning experience in analyzing manuscripts, learning to read and write about science more critically, and working closely with senior faculty, as well as an international author and expert base. The team spends 13 months producing each issue, culminating in a well-attended colloquium that is open to the public. The next colloquium on October 10, “Developing Medical Innovations for the Patient of the Future,” is tied to the September issue on medical technology and features Margaret Cartiera, PhD. In 2016, YJBM editors also began a podcast series in connection with the themed issues that aims to address the past, present, and future of the topic at hand.

This year marks the 90th anniversary of YJBM, a remarkable milestone that reflects the commitment and dedication of its student editors—and faculty advisors—who are busy planning a celebration that will take place in the spring. As has been the case for nearly a century, this next generation of scientists and clinicians will continue their work to produce a stellar publication. I encourage you to explore it if you haven’t already.