Fabio Broccatelli, Ph.D., is a postdoc at the Institute of Cancer Research in London and will soon begin a scientist position at Genentech, San Francisco. His research interests include medicinal chemistry, molecular modeling, DMPK, and ADMETox.
It is a sad but inevitable truth that, within the scientific community, the resonance of your work will not be exclusively determined by its quality alone. The science must be rigorous, innovative, and relevant—all of these are important prerequisites, but if this is delivered to the wrong audience, your work might end up resembling the proverbial tree falling in a forest.
As a scientific community, we manage to produce, publish, and collect a mind-boggling amount of information. To take the ChEMBL database alone: there are 1.3 million distinct compounds, interacting with about 9,000 protein targets, and with data extracted from over 51,000 scientific journals. The chemistry, the biology, and the regulatory information for all this are all in one place and are free of charge to use. Data acquisition is not necessarily the rate-limiting step anymore. We know this is the Big Data era, offering unprecedented opportunities, yet most of us can’t help feeling that somehow, much like Bill Murray, we are lost in translation. We know there are missing connections that could easily be made to improve human health; we just don’t know how to go about this.
This feeling does not necessarily reflect the state of reality but is more of a mirror of our age. We are being re-educated by social media, which is uncovering the potential of “unconventional” collaborative networks and crowdsourcing. Many scientists are moving from basic to translational science, and academic institutions and industries are encouraging interdisciplinary collaborations now more than ever. While paying off in terms of innovation, these efforts could be compromised by poor communication choices, which may ultimately result in casting good work to sea in a bottle. Adequate platforms are needed to facilitate the circulation of discoveries enhancing our understanding of pharmaceutical sciences as a whole.
The AAPS Journal is, in my opinion, an outstanding example of this. AAPSJ’s roots are anchored to the collaborative environment growing under the umbrella of the AAPS meetings. During such events, scientists can exchange ideas and, more importantly, can understand how their discoveries will affect people working in closely related fields. AAPSJ’s organization of special themed issues, as well as the invited and uninvited expert reviews, help in attracting cross-disciplinary readership engaged in the same challenges. When deciding to publish in the AAPS Journal, you choose to target a community of scientists with differing backgrounds but making the same effort to listen to each other. The main focus of this community is advancing pharmaceutical sciences, but not necessarily their own field of specialization. This will give you the unique opportunity of presenting your work to a receptive audience that will both judge your science and listen to your message, ensuring the tree does indeed make a sound as it falls.
Whatever you would like to say, choose your carrier wisely and don’t waste your message in a floating bottle!