Over its first twenty-five years, the ASME Journal of Biomechanical Engineering has taken its place among the most respected journals in the field of biomechanics. Much of this success has been due to the dedicated efforts of its previous editors and associate editors. John Brighton and Yuan-Cheng Fung showed the way by emphasizing the need for the Journal to “…serve as an excellent forum for the literature…” while highlighting the many promising areas of research for what was deemed a field that was “…still in its infancy, it is beginning to move into adolescence.” Those early years firmly established the valuable contributions of engineers in addressing many areas of medicine and biology. Richard Skalak and Robert Nerem continued this tradition of excellence as this field matured in the last two decades of the last century. Under their guidance and leadership, they showed how engineers could further contribute to and provide fundamental insights into the many new discoveries in cell biology. Under Ken Diller’s guidance over the recent five years, the Journal has continued to improve as exemplified by expanded to six issues per year, thereby eliminating the backlog and considerably shortening the time from submission to publication.
To all of these distinguished editors, the many associate editors who served under them and the dedicated publications staff at ASME, led by Phil DiVietro and Connie Monahan, the entire biomechanics community and I express our deepest appreciation. The strong and dedicated commitment of these key people is the foundation for the visibility, vitality and high quality the journal enjoys today. I am particularly grateful to Ken and his editorial assistant, Jenni Cork, for making the transition from his leadership to mine smooth and virtually seamless.
As I begin my tenure, I see both challenges and opportunities. As we gain more and better tools to probe the immense complexity of biology, as the amount of data expands to nearly incomprehensible volumes, and as engineering principles and practice become ever more integrated into biomedical research and medicine, the role of biomedical engineering should become increasingly important and better-appreciated. In this rapidly-changing landscape, however, it will be a continuing challenge for engineers to demonstrate, highlight and enunciate their unique skill sets, approaches and contributions. This challenge has to be met while still maintaining high standards and rigorous approaches—and while seeking new areas in which to make contributions.
For JBME to thrive and increase its impact, it will be essential to evolve to serve an ever-growing, increasingly diverse constituency. Again, the best way to do this is to ensure quality and balance. Quality derives from the editor and editorial board ensuring that each paper has a clear and rigorous engineering component and focuses on a timely and important topic. A balanced view of biomechanics has been one of the attractive features of JBME. We will strive to maintain such a balance while, at the same time, responding to the changing landscape of discovery. In particular, as the relationship of structure and biomechanical function permeate to the subcellular and molecular levels, we need to seize the opportunity to publish first-rate works showing the role of rigorous mechanical approaches in furthering our understanding at the ultrasmall scale while continuing to publicize more traditional biomechanics.
In addition to broadening the length scales, there are a few specific initiatives I would like to implement. First, within a short time we must implement an online submission and review process. Several of our competitors have already done so and we must follow suit to stay abreast—to say nothing of increasing our impact. Second, in keeping with the ever-increasing breadth of discoveries, we need to become more global in our reach—both internationally and domestically. One way to do this is to engage more foreign authors and associate editors. Another way is to invite leading scientists from other fields to contribute comprehensive reviews. This will not only help our readers better understand how their expertise could be applied in that field but also make other top scientists more aware of our journal. Finally, to make the table of contents easier for readers to identify articles of interest, I plan to cluster papers into major category headings. Over the past three plus years, 99% of all published articles in JBME could have been put into just six major categories. This organizational rather than fundamental structural change will hopefully make our Journal more accessible and attractive.
I look forward to meeting the challenges and exploring opportunities as your editor for the next five years. I, together with the dedicated and technically expert panel of Associate Editors, are committed to maintaining the high quality and doing our utmost to increase the impact of the Journal.