Interviews with Outstanding Authors (2023)

Posted On 2023-10-19 11:18:02

In 2023, many JLPM authors make outstanding contributions to our journal. Their articles published with us have received very well feedback in the field and stimulate a lot of discussions and new insights among the peers.

Hereby, we would like to highlight some of our outstanding authors who have been making immense efforts in their research fields, with a brief interview of their unique perspective and insightful view as authors.

Outstanding Authors (2023)

Tony Badrick, Bond University, Australia

Alma M. A. Mingels, Maastricht University Medical Center, The Netherlands

Maximo J. Marin, University of Florida, USA

Johannes Mair, Medical University Innsbruck, Austria

Nuthar Jassam, Harrogate NHS Foundation Trust, UK

Nicholas C. Spies, Washington University, USA

Karina Braga Gomes, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil

Outstanding Author

Tony Badrick

Dr. Badrick has earned a lot of degrees, like AM. CCS, B. App Sc, BSc, BA, M Lit St (Math), MBA, PhD (QUT), PhD (UQ), FAIMS, FAACB, FACB, FAIM, Member Aust Maths Soc, FRCPA (Hon), FFSc (RCPA), GAICD. Currently, he is CEO of the RCPAQAP, Adjunct Professor of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology at Griffith University, Honorary Associate Professor of the National Centre for Epidemiology and Public Health at ANU College of Health and Medicine, and ANU College of Science and Honorary Associate Professor of Faculty of Medicine, Bond University, Gold Coast, Visiting Fellow, Australian Institute for Health Innovation, Macquarie University. He was President of the Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemists (2003-2007) and Vice President of the Australian Institute of Medical Scientists (2011-2018), and is President of the Asian Pacific Federation of Clinical Biochemistry. His interests are quality control, quality assurance, machine learning, and statistics.

Dr. Badrick thinks academic writing is very important because it educates and stimulates discussion. Academic writing is how the collective knowledge of the profession is challenged and improved, and it is one of the fundamental processes of scientific advancement.

Academic writing often involves evidence synthesis. Dr. Badrick would like to share how he selects the appropriate evidence for synthesis and analysis. He says, “There are formal processes to assess evidence, which need to be used as a guide. Personal bias, mainly when writing about something important, is easy to introduce. One way to avoid this is to work with colleagues and, during the process, constantly question the aim of and the evidence for any conclusions. When in doubt, ask someone independent to assess your hypothesis and analysis.”

To ensure one’s writing is critical, Dr. Badrick thinks, ultimately, this must be done by external reviewers. That is the strength of the scientific publishing process.

Academic writing takes a lot of time and effort. Being asked what motivates him to do so, Dr. Badrick responds, “Publishing a paper provides an opportunity to educate, challenge, and perhaps modify and improve current laboratory practice.”

(By Alisa Lu, Brad Li)

Alma M. A. Mingels

Dr. Alma Mingels is a Clinical Chemist at Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands. She studied Biomedical Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology and obtained her PhD and clinical training at the Central Diagnostic Laboratory at the Maastricht University / Maastricht University Medical Center. Her PhD research covered a broad spectrum surrounding the introduction of the high-sensitivity cardiac troponin assays, from laboratory to clinical aspects. She continued her research in the cardio(vascular) field of clinical chemistry with particular interest in the translation of basic science and analytical chemistry into clinical applications. She has co-authored more than 50 publications in her field. Besides, her clinical work has a particular focus on pre-analysis and automation. Click here to learn more about Dr. Mingels.

Dr. Mingels thinks academic writing is extremely important. She explains, “In academic writing, we push ourselves to improve our knowledge, from ourselves and our colleagues in the field, and if successful, it even reaches the whole world. It is a strong evidence-based ideology, different from other fields, for instance, management. Academic writing is the only way to find new insights that are genuine and meaningful, as in our case in the field of diagnostics.”

There are a few issues that Dr. Mingels believes are important when writing a paper. First, the most efficient way is achieved with the following order: start with storyboarding, so make a couple of tables and figures that could fill up the results section, play around with it, and you will find the set-up and impact of your manuscript and thereby the perfect fit for the journal you want to go for; then start with the methods as this is simple and helps you to get started and complete the results section, next write the introduction (take care of the funnel design) and keep the discussion and conclusion for the end. Also, for a perfect title, she always sets up 5 to 10 titles and carefully thinks over to really push herself to end up with the best one. Finally, it is essential to ask yourself what the main message is and what kind of audience you are writing for the journal. She sometimes rewrote her words repeatedly until she found the perfect balance so that she could be satisfied with the result.

Speaking of how to ensure her writing is critical. Dr. Mingels replies, “When I was still a student and working on my first paper, I remember very well when my professor completely changed the first version of my manuscript, and I found tracked changes all over the document. It was a pretty big shock at the first moment. However, a couple of versions of the manuscript later, I realized that with critical feedback, you are really able to improve the manuscript. This step-by-step approach often takes a while, and your mood might go up and down a few times which is absolutely normal. It is a process, although that is as important as doing your experimental work since you keep learning from your own data, and it also takes care that your findings are reported as clearly and convincingly as possible. Having a few good papers next to you from high-ranking journals or the journal you are writing for is also very useful during the writing process, and preferably, you discuss one of them with colleagues in a journal club kind of meeting.”

The burden of being a doctor is heavy. How does Dr. Mingels allocate time to write papers? She explains, “This is a very tough issue, to be honest. Since time is always an issue, especially with a loving family waiting for your attention at home. At the very least, one should be having fun doing research, whether studying in the lab, writing an exciting paper, or having discussions with other experts in your field. Maybe in this way, it does not bother you too much that sometimes your evenings or other spare time are filled with work.”

(By Alisa Lu, Brad Li)

Maximo J. Marin

Dr. Maximo J. Marin is the Medical Director for the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital Core Laboratory and an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine. He earned his medical degree from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and has completed both his residency and fellowship training in pathology and clinical chemistry at The University of Chicago. He has published on a broad range of topics, including toxicology, biomarkers of traumatic brain injury and hemostasis. Further, other scholarly works include developing educational material on topics in oncology and virtual-based teaching modules in clinical chemistry and coagulation testing for the PathElective interactive platform. Recently, his interests and research focus have been on the utilization of machine learning-based algorithms in the area of hemostasis and thrombosis testing in the clinical laboratory. He hopes to incorporate machine learning algorithms in laboratory medicine to develop clinical laboratories of the future.

Assuming sound data collection and analysis, Dr. Marin thinks the essential elements of an excellent academic paper should include a consistent logical structure, concise sentences and an insightful component. First, while the logical structure or flow seems to be an obvious point, it is often overlooked as an ancillary aspect. However, the importance cannot be overstated as this gives the overall impression of clarity and thoughtfulness in telling your story to engage the intended audience. Secondly, concise sentences are the foundation of an effective communication of ideas in a paper. Within this context, a significant effort should be made to minimize the use of specialized language or jargon because this can be distracting and discouraging. In addition, you may even lose the reader before having reached important points. However, the latter is a function of the targeted audience, and precise definitions can alleviate many of these difficulties. Finally, insight drives the audience’s sustained interest and appreciation of the work. Ideally, the insight should be packaged and unraveled for the reader in an approach that is geared toward the perception of self-discovery.

Speaking of the qualities an author should possess, Dr. Marin says, “Academic papers are a form of educating and communicating to your peers. Authors should strive to possess qualities that embody the proficiency in educating and communicating. One approach toward this goal is by directing your efforts to knowing your intended audience. The latter is then followed by developing strategies to breakdown complex topics and reorganize them into an interesting palatable form. This is a high standard, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for it. We owe it to our work, ideas and peers/community.”

My research interests and focus align well with JLPM, as we aim to report on new findings along with current and practical information from the laboratory and precision medicine field. Additionally, the journal has a national and international presence, as evidenced by the editorial board with diverse backgrounds, both culturally and professionally, which permits various perspectives on scientific works. All of this strengthens the objectives of the journal and the scholarly works submitted to the journal,” says Dr. Marin.

(By Alisa Lu, Brad Li)

Johannes Mair

Dr. Johannes Mair is a specialist in general internal medicine, cardiology, and intensive care medicine, as well as a specialist in clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine. He is a senior staff member of the Department of Internal Medicine III – Cardiology and Angiology at the Medical University Innsbruck in Austria and an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine, Clinical Chemistry, and Laboratory Medicine at this university. His main research interests have been in the field of cardiac biomarkers since the beginning of his academic career, and he has published more than 220 articles that can be accessed on PubMed. He is a founding and former member of the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) Committee on the Standardization of Markers of Cardiac Damage (C-SMCD) and a founding and active member of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Study Group on Biomarkers in Cardiology of the Acute Cardiovascular Care Association (ACVA).

In Dr. Mair’s opinion, research is essential for academic writing, and scientific writing about its results is the primary driver of medical progress.

Speaking of the crucial skill sets of an author, Dr. Mair says, “Individual talents for scientific writing vary, but with the help of a mentor, young scientists can learn how to write good scientific manuscripts. Their skills will improve with each submitted paper as they consider the comments and suggestions of experienced reviewers.”

Though academic writing takes a lot of time and effort, Dr. Mair thinks his interest in research and teaching motivates him to stay at the university, and academic writing is part of that.

Finally, Dr. Mair would like to say a few words to encourage other academic writers, “In the later stages of an academic career, it is also important to provide reviews and clinically relevant recommendations on how to apply the results of one's clinical research area in daily routine practice.”

(By Alisa Lu, Brad Li)

Nuthar Jassam

Dr. Nuthar Jassam is a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, UK. She was trained as a clinical biochemist at Leeds Teaching University Hospital and moved to Harrogate Hospital for her first consultant post. Dr. Jassam currently serves as a Clinical Director for Integrated Pathology Solutions, a network of 3 UK-based NHS laboratories. Early research interest focused on the harmonization within clinical networks of laboratories, ensuring transferable patient results. In general, research interests are driven mainly by work-based problems. Adjusted calcium equation was another area of her interest in which several research papers were published aiming to assess the potential of national or international harmonization of this practice. In her drive for harmonization, she came to the realization that the road to standardization in Laboratory Medicine is very long indeed. Hence, building on the work of other colleagues and sharing research results through publication is the only way to achieve goals.

Dr. Jassam believes that transparency and integrity are essential elements of a good academic paper. Transparency is a core value that is particularly needed when presenting research findings to the professional community. Integrity is another fundamental value in reviewing the work of others. To her, the road to research is bumpy. The collective effort behind each published paper amounts to months if not years. Most research fellows are also reviewers of other researchers’ work. Therefore, treating others’ manuscripts with the same standard of respect that we wish to receive when our work is being assessed is key to building trust in the field and makes it more attractive for young researchers to join.

In Dr. Jassam’s opinion, the ultimate goal of research is clinical practice improvement. Therefore, we should widely benefit the scientific community. The ability to present the research question, data and its outcome in the simplest way possible is an important skill to acquire. By definition, a researcher is a person with an inquisitive mind. However, critical thinking is a “developed quality” that is of utmost importance for researchers and can be gained by extensive reading and reviewing the work of others.

The study design is one way of eliminating bias,” Dr. Jassam says when asked how to avoid biases in one’s writing, “However, transparency of data reporting is key in avoiding bias, though sometimes it is very difficult to avoid hidden bias completely. In my early days in research, a reviewer disagreed with my paper fundamentally, and I was very unhappy. Ten years later, working on the same topic, I found myself holding the same views as my unknown reviewer. This was only an example to show that a researcher’s ultimate loyalty is to the science and a true researcher should really leave his/her own prejudice out.

The burden of being a doctor is heavy, so how does Dr. Jassam allocate time to write papers? She says, “At the beginning of someone’s academic career, working at home was a frequent practice. With experience, the process of writing and publishing becomes shorter. Therefore, managing clinical duties with research work is a doable task with a slightly extended working day.”

(By Alisa Lu, Brad Li)

Nicholas C. Spies

Nick Spies completed his medical and residency training at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, first with an internship in obstetrics, then finishing in clinical pathology. He will soon be joining the University of Utah and ARUP laboratories as a Director of Applied Artificial Intelligence in the Research and Innovation Division. His research focuses on applying data science tools to better leverage the data generated for routine clinical care into improvements in the pre- and post-analytical phases of testing. Recently, this has largely taken the form of applying machine learning algorithms to problems such as laboratory test utilization and IV fluid contamination in basic metabolic panel results. Connect with Dr. Spies on Twitter/X @NickSpies13.

Dr. Spies believes that clarity in the writing is the most essential element of a good academic paper. Regardless of the complexity of the methods or the depth of the results, a clear and concise academic paper will pave the way for others to replicate and reproduce the work. In the world of academic publishing, the primary goal should be to communicate often complex ideas and observations in a manner that is accessible and comprehensible to the broadest possible audience. In his opinion, clarity in writing ensures that the paper's purpose, methodology, results, and conclusions are easily understood. It is not merely about simplifying the content but about presenting it in a structured, logical, and accessible manner. This involves the use of well-defined sections, straightforward language, and a logical flow of ideas, each building upon the last to create a final, cohesive narrative.

From Dr. Spies’ perspective, academic writers should possess attention to detail, a collaborative demeanor, and, above all else, humility. All science builds upon that which came before it, and a successful article will acknowledge and pay credit to that work. He adds, “As a writer, these three attributes will allow you to make meaningful contributions while accepting and implementing the feedback of your peers into a final manuscript that is better than what could be achieved alone.”

I chose JLPM for publishing my work because the journal is well-aligned to my personal research goals of applying data science towards a more precise approach to laboratory medicine,” says Dr. Spies.

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

Karina Braga Gomes

Karina Braga Gomes is a pharmacist with a qualification in Clinical Biochemistry at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil. She obtained a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences with an emphasis on Human and Medical Genetics. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical and Toxicological Analysis at the Faculty of Pharmacy of UFMG. She was sub-coordinator of the Board of the Biomedicine Course and the Postgraduate Program in Clinical and Toxicological Analysis. She is also a master's and doctorate supervisor for the Postgraduate Program in Clinical Analysis (Faculty of Pharmacy) and Postgraduate Program in Adult Health Sciences (Faculty of Medicine). Dr. Gomes is cited in the lists: Top 100,000 Scientists of the World - Elsivier (2023); Latin America Top 10,000 Scientists (2021); and Most Influential Scientists in the World - Scopus (2019). She is a member of the National Institute for Translational Neuroscience and the National Institute for Hormones and Women's Health in Brazil. Her work focuses on molecular mechanisms and biomarkers of insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases and dementia. Learn more about Dr. Gomes here and connect with her on Instagram.

In Dr. Gomes’ opinion, academic writing is currently essential for new discoveries, changes, and updates of concepts in science. With new forms of communication in recent decades, enabling contact without borders and in real-time, academic publications have become more democratic, allowing access for everyone. Furthermore, the search for better quality work with greater impact has made science reach levels never seen before.

The skill of academic writing is a learning process that requires dedication, training and questioning. According to Dr. Gomes, some characteristics are necessary for the publication of a good scientific article, such as data transparency, the most appropriate methodology, reduction of bias, citation of important references, and clearly showing its limitations. Filling a gap in knowledge or testing new hypotheses should be the main objective of an academic study.

What motivates me in academic writing is the potential that our studies have to modify the course of clinical practice, change a concept in science, or help to understand biological mechanisms. Furthermore, the academic writing results from the work of a team made up mainly of young researchers who develop various skills in a scientific study. Encouraging young researchers is one of the objectives of dedicating myself to academic writing,” says Dr. Gomes.

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)