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Incoming JAMA editor says journal’s issues handling race are ‘not unique’

by Enochadmin

In her most pointed public feedback since her choice as JAMA editor-in-chief, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo acknowledged she had a visceral response to the podcast scandal that led to her predecessor’s departure. However in the end, she wasn’t stunned.

“I want to say I’ve by no means heard the forms of sentiments that had been expressed within the podcast, however these occur pretty generally,” Bibbins-Domingo mentioned throughout a Q&A with STAT Government Editor Rick Berke at a Wednesday dinner honoring her and different members of the inaugural STATUS Listing at Fenway Park in Boston. “For me, the problems that had been so distinguished to position JAMA within the information weren’t stunning points. They’re not distinctive to JAMA.”

Bibbins-Domingo, an internist, epidemiologist, and health-equity researcher, would be the first individual of shade to function editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Affiliation when she begins on July 1. Howard Bauchner stepped down as editor-in-chief final June after JAMA aired a podcast in February 2021 questioning whether or not structural racism exists in well being care and the group posted a tweet studying, “No doctor is racist, so how can there be structural racism in healthcare?”


Requested about her personal experiences with structural racism, Bibbins-Domingo mentioned, “I feel for these of us who’ve identities who usually are not a part of the primary tradition in science and medication, it’s laborious to pinpoint any particular signature occasion. I actually do say that the constructions have been designed traditionally to not essentially be welcoming of everyone.”

Bauchner wasn’t a part of the unique podcast episode, however printed a follow-up dialog in March 2021 with three esteemed Black students. In it, he requested questions together with, “Do you will have an thought of why the time period racism is so charged for white individuals like me?”


“His response was actually very remedial and disturbing,” STATUS Listing honoree Siobhan Wescott mentioned on the occasion. Wescott, the primary endowed professor and director of American Indian well being at College of Nebraska Medical Heart’s School of Public Well being, mentioned Baucher’s response led her to publish a public rant on Twitter for the primary time. Bibbins-Domingo, requested if she had an analogous response as Wescott, acknowledged that she did.

The Wednesday occasion was one thing of a who’s-who within the medical and life sciences world. One other honoree was Johns Hopkins College professor of epidemiology and oncology Otis Brawley, who chaired the JAMA editor choice committee that led to Bibbins-Domingo’s appointment, and New England Journal of Medication Editor-in-Chief Eric Rubin.

Bibbins-Domingo mentioned she didn’t suppose she would get the job, and the interviews had been “a few of the most intense” she had ever had.

Brawley mentioned that Bibbins-Domingo instantly got here to thoughts when the search committee was weighing who may take over a journal within the midst of an upheaval. However she had additionally been on Brawley’s radar for greater than a decade — he mentioned he was impressed by the best way she handled politicians just like the late Rep. John Dingell whereas serving on the U.S. Preventive Companies Job Pressure.

“John Dingell was asking numerous very powerful questions of the U.S. Preventive Companies Job Pressure practising what I might name very orthodox science, the form of stuff we have to do, versus political stuff that’s probably not science, however actually political BS. Kirsten was extremely good at coping with these politicians,” Brawley mentioned. “She may deal with these of us. I’d like to see you deal with a room of kids.”

Bibbins-Domingo was named to the inaugural STATUS Listing for her work addressing well being inequities within the U.S., together with a paper she co-authored in 2021 that confirmed that Covid-19 hit California’s Latino inhabitants tougher than another group within the state, with immigrants and important employees dying on the highest charges.

The Covid-19 pandemic, she mentioned, has each highlighted and generally deepened medical distrust. “Even the problems of fairness which have been highlighted within the pandemic have led to narratives of ‘us’ and ‘them,’” she mentioned. “I do suppose it’s incumbent upon all of us, those that are publishing the excellent science, these of us publishing concerning the life sciences, to consistently suppose by way of and problem our personal assumptions about the easiest way to speak that.”

That work has already began at JAMA: All 13 of the publication’s specialty journals have named an fairness editor, and the flagship journal is about to announce who will serve in that function quickly.

Rubin mentioned that he was trying ahead to working with one other “fundamental scientist” and studying from Bibbins-Domingo. He additionally supplied one bit of recommendation for her: “Being a journal editor is a good way to make mates, till you reject their papers.”

Each JAMA and NEJM affect the best way medication is practiced within the U.S. However which one is greatest, Berke requested Bibbins-Domingo and Rubin — which journal is equal to automotive rental firm Hertz, and which one is Avis?

“I’m going to duck that query, however say that, in 2010, Kirsten printed her largest paper within the New England Journal of Medication,” Rubin replied, eliciting laughter and applause from the gang.

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