The MJM: An Opportunity for International
There is a common saying in today's scientific community: publish
or perish. As a result, researchers spend most of their time
writing and revising articles for scientific publications. From
anaphylaxis to zoology, there is a scientific journal to suit
your particular field. Though this at times might seem a bit
excessive, it is vitally important. From the monks who illuminated
manuscripts while praying in their hilltop monasteries to Gutenberg's
industrialization of the written word, the preservation and spread
of information has been a great preoccupation. It is said that
Isaac Newton only wrote his Principae Mathematica at the insistence
of his colleagues who feared most his work would be lost if anything
happened to him. Had Newton not acquiesced, the realm of physics
might have been set back centuries at his death. The concept
of keeping a written record of one's research is central to the
scientific process. The free flow of ideas allows collaboration
and elaboration between individuals that may not actually ever
meet. Furthermore, documenting research and experimental results
obviates the need for experiments to be repeated by others. Without
such documentation, the sum total of human knowledge might have
to be rediscovered with the passing of each generation. Whether
in the Great Library of Alexandria or the humble collection dedicated
to Sir William Osler, humanity has always realized the necessity
to gather knowledge together for all those who wished to learn
from it. It is within this philosophical framework that the MJM
tries to play its small part.
Being an international peer reviewed student-run medical journal,
one of the main goals of the MJM is to introduce novel ideas
and interpretations of scientific research from a student's perspective.
A medical journal presenting solely student work provides the
means for recognizing the high caliber of student research on
a larger scale. In fact, the MJM encourages individuals who are
relatively new to research to submit their work for publication
for the first time, a process that might serve as an important
stepping stone and incentive for further research endeavors.
For the student editors and publications staff, there are the
additional educational benefits associated with the production
of the journal and the value of international student collaboration.
The present editorial board, which includes students from several
countries, including Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Italy,
and Israel, has had the unique opportunity to develop and utilize
an online forum for editing articles. The mission of the MJM
is to facilitate discussions regarding important medical issues
and nurture student participation in endeavors that could potentially
lead to beneficial outcomes in the medical community. With a
mix of original articles, letters to the editor, literature reviews,
and our trademark "crossroads" articles that explore
the relationship between medicine and humanities, the MJM strives
to put together an issue that informs, stimulates, and raises
as many questions as it answers.
A Midsummer Dream
Summer marks the end of school year for high school and college
students in Canada and other places around the world. As the
aspiring pupils ready themselves to enter their studies next
fall, we should perhaps ponder on how our societies, obsessed
with the system of productivity, assessment and selection, often
fails to provide what may be just as important to our youngsters-
the environment to shape individual talents and the room to dream
about the future.
Those who dreamt in the realm of science and medicine weaved
their reveries into unparalleled historical achievements. Just
a century ago, Sir William Osler initiated bedside teaching in
medicine, and half a century later, Sir Archie Cochrane introduced
the concept of evidence based medicine. Built on these once dreamy
ideas, biomedical science and technology have since that time
revolutionized medicine and exponentially proliferated the ability
of physicians to provide better care to their patients.
From these developments, medical scientists and physicians are
each becoming more and more highly specialized. With the potential
risk of losing the broader perspective and of falling into the
pitfall of irreconcilable divergence in their viewpoints, the
presence of good physician-scientists is crucial to ensure that
the knowledge created in one specialty is not lost upon the other.
The physician-scientists also take on the important role as teachers,
showing students the necessity of applying scientific rigor to
both research and patient care. However, the change in practice
patterns, the financial burden and the long training have decreased
the number of physician-scientists to a sub-optimal level, and
the consequences can be felt especially in North America.(1)
In a recent article by Francis Collins, Director of the National
Human Genome Research Institute, cosigned by a group of highly
acclaimed scientists, the future of genomic research was dreamt
to be a giant triad consisting of basic sciences, health care
and social responsibility.(2) The proposal serves as a good blueprint
for shaping the future of science and medicine because of its
universal applicability. The proposal also identifies six elements
that intersect the triad at all levels; two of these elements
are education and training, showing again their undeniable importance
in supporting the progress of science and medicine.
Yet the simultaneously most important and most difficult aspect
of the dream of Collins et al. may be social responsibility.
It is a necessity to recruit sufficient resources and to make
concurrent advances in ethics, law and social sciences alongside
with biomedical science. The power differential between richer
and poorer institutions and countries, and the lack of mechanisms
to maintain the balance is a serious threat to this future. In
the March 7th issue of Science, Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General,
appealed to all scientists to commit to stop the "acceleration
of the disparity between advanced and developing countries, which
creates social and economic difficulties at both national and
international levels"(3). At the international level, infectious
diseases such as AIDS, TB and malaria are WHO declared emergencies
that threaten less-industrialized countries, but the current
state of resource disequilibrium and power differential prevent
the delivery of good medicine and research opportunities to those
in need. At the national level, the imbalance may lead to the
neglect of important research areas and the creation of heterogeneous
health care. To us, students, the inequality in resource distribution
may also profoundly impact on the quality of education and training,
preventing many to pursue their aspirations at a personal level.
The current state of our education calls for immediate attention.
The increase in demand and the lack in supply of physician-scientists
have profound implications in maintaining scientific advancement,
patient care and teaching; the increasing gap between the affluent
and the poor presents as a major obstacle to our common interest.
Much solidarity is needed amongst us, the students, to embrace
our dreams and our future.
The unique genre of MJM offers the opportunity for all students
to communicate their thoughts, to show their concerns, and to
demonstrate their efforts, while providing a solid ground for
learning and development. The non-profit and peer-review nature
of MJM opens an impartial international forum for those willing
to share their ideas and passion. As the MJM cherishes the joy
of producing issue 7.1, we hope that more dreams will be generated
and fulfilled as result of our hard work.
We dream again today. What about you?
1. Zemlo TR, Garrison HH, Patridge NC, Ley TJ. The Physician-Scientist: Career
Issues and Challenges at the Year 2000. The FASEB Journal 14:221-230; 2000
2. Collins FS, Green ED, Guttmacher AE, Guyer MS. A vision for the future of
genomic research. Nature 422, 835 - 847; 2003
3. Annan K, A Challenge to the World's Scientists, 299(5612):1485; 7 Mar 2003.