THE EMBO JOURNAL IS 30
The EMBO Journal is 30
A 30th anniversary invites reflection on change and progress. Here senior editors past and present look back on the early days of THE EMBO JOURNAL.1
John Tooze. “The EMBO Council of the day felt that a journal would help cement the EMBO membership, and, if successful, it would market the name of EMBO to a worldwide audience and possibly generate income.
But would we get enough high-quality manu- scripts to produce a journal that would add lustre to EMBO’s name or would we drift into medioc- rity and financial inconsequentiality?
In the earliest years, I was often very anxious about manuscript numbers and quality. I would phone leading EMBO members to plead with them for the papers they were sending to Cell, Nature, Science, or at least to give us first refusal on those that Cell and Nature had declined. A common reply was “John, we’d happily send you our best but our grad students and postdocs insist on shooting for the stars.” I suspect that remains the situation now. With time, however, the basis
Iain Mattaj. “When I joined The EMBO Journal it really was a different age. There were no targets, and although statistics on acceptance rates and impact factors were collected retrospectively there was minimal discussion of how we should act on
The EMBO Journal editorial team
for worry about manuscript flow changed from too few to too many, while the quality issue remained.
I remember during a family holiday standing in a telephone box in a rain storm on the Isle of Skye suggesting referees based on titles and authors of new manuscripts. There was no edito- rial back up in the early years until Iain agreed to share responsibility.
And then there were the very many phone calls from rejected authors. After the preliminar- ies I would say “Nothing you are going to tell me will change the rejection decision but I’ll listen if you want me to.” Twenty minutes or so later the caller in Europe or the USA would wind down.
Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory
Executive Editor 1990 – 2004
them. The referee databases were in our heads. I benefitted enormously in that respect from being a voracious journal reader and seminar attendee, and by being at The European Molecular Biology Laboratory, where seminars and meetings of all sorts were frequent and generally excellent and I was very gratified by the willingness of referees to help both the authors and the journal.
John Tooze and I were active editors, by which I mean we considered the papers and the
Founding Editor 1982 –2003
But enough of 30 years ago when everything was paper, post and courier. Today, with instanta- neous electronic communication I don’t envy my successors facing those daily myriads of e-mails.”
reports and took decisions. This meant that when authors phoned to complain about the decision we could have a science-based discussion on why the paper was rejected and that discussion satis- fied all but the most obdurate of the callers. As the editorial office got bigger over the next dozen years, and as other journals transformed their editorial offices more and more into postal relays between authors and referees, I tried to instill this attitude to editorial work in the incoming editors. It is still a major principle of the current and laud- able EMBO Transparent Editorial Process intro- duced by Hermann Bujard and Pernille Rørth when they were Director of EMBO and Editor of The EMBO Journal, respectively.
δ David del Álamo (since 2011) David received his PhD from the Auto-
nomous University of Madrid, studying proximal-distal patterning in Drosophila with Fernando Díaz-Benjumea. As a post- doc, he continued working with Drosophila in Marek Mlodzik’s lab (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York) on the mechanisms of epithelial planar cell polarity generation, and with François Schweisguth (Institut Pasteur, Paris) on the modulation of Notch signalling in lateral inhibition.
Developmental biology Cell and tissue architecture Microbiology
ι Isabel Arnold (since 2005) Isabel received her PhD from the University
of Munich for her work on mitochon- drial protein sorting in the lab of Walter Neupert. As a postdoctoral researcher, she worked in the lab of Fiona Watt at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in London on keratinocyte differentiation, and in the lab of Thomas Langer at the University of Cologne on mitochondrial proteases and peptide transport.
Membranes and transport Cell death Cellular metabolism Protein synthesis and folding
σ Céline Carret (since 2011) Céline completed her PhD at the University
of Montpellier, France, on parasitic protozoa of the genus Babesia. After a postdoc on lymphocyte signalling at the Babraham Institute in the lab of Denis Alexander (Cambridge), she worked on functional genomics and molecular para- sitology of malaria at the Sanger Institute (Cambridge) and subsequently at the Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Gunnar Mair’s lab (Lisbon).
Genomic and computational biology Host – pathogen interactions
κ Karin Dumstrei (since 2005) Karin received her PhD from the University
of California Los Angeles where she studied DE-cadherin mediated cell adhesion in Drosophila in the lab of Volker Hartenstein. She then went to the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen where she worked on primordial germ cell migration in zebrafish with Erez Raz.
Immunology Neuroscience Plant biology
2 EMBOencounters | Summer 2012 | firstname.lastname@example.org