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Letter from the Editor-in-Chief

To mark one year as Editor-in-Chief of the BSI’s journal of translational immunology, Clinical & Experimental Immunology, Leonie Taams reflects on the journal’s unique position in the immunology landscape, and looks forward to the exciting offerings that CEI has in the pipeline.

A remarkable collaboration

This May marks the anniversary of my first year as Editor-in-Chief of Clinical & Experimental Immunology. This is my third formal post with the British Society for Immunology, having worked with the Society as a Trustee from 2013 to 2016 and as Congress Secretary between 2014 and 2017. The CEI editorial position offers up a fresh set of learning experiences and challenges.

As with organising a Congress, being closely involved with a journal month to month reveals the huge amount of time and work put in by many individuals, often voluntarily, behind the scenes. Authors entrust us with manuscripts which are the result of months or years of work, reviewers write constructive commentaries to help the authors improve their manuscripts whilst maintaining rigorous review, and our Editorial Board and Associate Editors tirelessly lend their time and expertise to ensure the assessments we make are fair.

To give a sense of the scale of the collaboration, in the last year CEI received over 500 original research articles, of which just over 100 were sent to peer review. Alongside this core of research papers, we received review articles, perspectives and commentaries. More than 400 peer reviewers gave their time to read and offer their thoughts, recommendations and suggestions on these manuscripts, through one or more rounds of revision.

That so many individuals across the world dedicate their time to getting the best out of our manuscripts, and out of our science, should be celebrated. Without each of these contributions, CEI could not exist. The commitment of time and expertise by the immunology community to our journal is a reflection of the vibrancy of the field we work in. In recent years, technological and human ingenuity have allowed us to investigate human immunology in greater detail than has been possible before. The continuing developments in -omics, big data and the bioinformatics tools that scientists have developed to interpret them have enabled us to analyse increasingly extensive and complex data sets. Gene-editing techniques, such as CRISPR–Cas9, allow manipulation on a cellular and a molecular level previously only possible in vivo in mice, but now achievable in human primary cells and tissue.

Alongside the technological advances which aid us in our investigations, the last decade has seen a transformative shift in thinking among immunologists. Until recently, it seemed that in vivo immunology could only be obtained from experimental systems. Now, we can gather meaningful data by exploring clinical phenotypes and the associated immune response in relation to genotype, or through immune monitoring before and after targeted immune intervention in humans. This change in focus means that immunologists work ever more closely with clinicians and patients, and push the boundaries of what is possible when investigating human samples. This exciting combination of advances in technologies, data analysis and experimental medicine has transformed what we can achieve in translational immunology.  

Virtual issues 

Review series 

Collections inspired by world events

Expanding the CEI team

I am very grateful to my predecessor Mark Peakman who, in his time as Editor-in-Chief of CEI between 2006 and 2017, strengthened the foundation and reputation of the journal as a home for translational immunology. This reputation is illustrated by the journal’s rising impact factor, which continued to increase in 2017 from 3.15 to 3.41, based on the 2015–2016 impact factor window.

Reflecting the value CEI brings to the immunology community, the BSI has increased investment in the journal over the past year and has committed to continuing this investment into the future. We now enjoy greater support in the editorial office, and three new Associate Editors have joined the editorial team. In welcoming Sandra Amor, Tanja de Gruijl and Benjamin Marsland, we have doubled the size of the Associate Editor team and expanded our subject expertise, international representation and gender balance. Our new colleagues join the team of Associate Editors Mark worked with, and who I continue to rely on. Danny Douek, Xiao-Ning Xu and Angelo Manfredi have been wonderfully welcoming, and I thank them for always being on call when I have needed their guidance. The CEI Associate Editors are all immunologists with long-established careers. Their expertise encompasses a broad set of subject areas, including inflammation, autoimmunity, neuroimmunology, immunodeficiency, immunotherapy, oncoimmunology, transplantation immunology, allergy and infection. They are therefore well versed to assess the opportunities and challenges, the possibilities and limitations of translational immunology. With their expert guidance the journal is extremely well placed to evaluate manuscripts on a wide range of immunological topics, from high-quality experimental immunology with clear translational relevance, to studies that focus on the immunology of human disease or on novel mechanistic insights into immune function, cells, mediators or genes. We will continue to provide rigorous review of the manuscripts we receive, with the goal to report the highest quality studies in clinical and experimental immunology. We will maintain our rapid time to first decision, which currently stands at 17 days.

Read all about it: promoting our content

We are proud of the achievements of our authors, and the team works hard to promote their work. To increase the ease with which readers can find and read CEI papers, we compile and promote Virtual Issues of related content published in the journal (see box for most recent releases). We currently have a Virtual Issue on the microbiome in the pipeline and are working to release more collaborative Virtual Issues this year. 

To further the reach of our content, we create well-received collections to tie in to world events. For example, high-impact papers by female immunologists from our journals for International Women’s Day, key open access articles for Open Access Day and highlights for World Diabetes Day (see box). We have a strong and growing presence on Twitter (you can find us @CEIjournal) and regularly share content on Instagram and the Wiley and BSI Facebook pages. Last year, we produced a useful guide to social media and discoverability for authors, Go viral! Raise the profile of your article through social media (Immunology News, May 2017), and, following its success, we are working on a guide to help authors optimise article titles and abstracts for PubMed and Google Scholar searches (keep an eye out for that in these pages soon!).  

Into the future

Over the coming year, the CEI team is focusing on commissioning Review Series on a range of translational topics. Review Series present varied viewpoints on selected topics which, when brought together, broaden our understanding of the issues at play. Once published, these series are freely available to read on the CEI website (see box).

I believe these Series provide greater depth and overall insight for our readers, and I hope you enjoy the Review Series in the pipeline for the coming months, which include work on regulatory T cells, guest-edited by Ciriaco A. Piccirillo; autoimmune disease, guest-edited by Urs Christen; and inflammation and immune resolution, which I commissioned.

I invite all BSI members to submit their suggestions and ideas for expert reviews and Review Series which would be of benefit to the translational immunology community.

Support the BSI

I would like to end by highlighting that as a publication of the British Society for Immunology, any profits we make through the sale of CEI are reinvested back into the immunology community through the Society’s grants, support of Regional and Affinity Group activities, advocacy, travel awards, the annual BSI Congress and much more. Clinical & Experimental Immunology is committed not only to publishing the best-quality science and commentary in the area of translational immunology, but also to supporting the continued success of the BSI and the field of immunology; goals which we could not achieve without the many committed scientists who contribute to the journal in so many ways.

Thank you for your continued support.

Leonie Taams

Editor-in-Chief, Clinical & Experimental Immunology