Loew Launches into Term as BJ Editor-in-Chief

On July 1, Leslie Loew became the Editor-in-Chief of Biophysical Journal replacing Edward Egelman, whose five-year term ended. The following Editorial was published as part of the July 4 Issue of the Journal and outlines Loew’s vision and goals for the next five years.

Biophysical Journal 60 years after Hodgkin-Huxley

As I was putting the finishing touches on this inaugural editorial for my tenure as Editor-in-Chief of Biophysical Journal, I was saddened to learn of the passing of Sir Andrew Huxley. The transition of biology from a descriptive science to a quantitative and predictive science has been in progress for the 60 years since the Hodgkin-Huxley equation, accelerating tremendously in the last 10 years. Hodgkin and Huxley solved their differential equations “using a hand-operated calculating machine” (Hodgkin and Huxley, 1952) and showed the biology community how powerfully physics and mathematics could contribute to the advancement of biology. Today, the proliferation of computing hardware and software has made it possible to apply quantitative measurements and quantitative analytical methods to even the most complex biology. The application of physics and math to biology has become universally recognized (most importantly, by NIH) as the key ingredient for biomedical research progress. The biophysics era has truly arrived and Biophysical Journal has therefore never been a more vital conduit for dissemination of scientific advances.

The first order of business is to express my thanks, on behalf of the readers, authors and editors of BJ, as well as the membership of the Biophysical Society, to Ed Egelman for his stewardship over the last five years. Ed has worked tirelessly for BJ and managed to do so without ever losing his famous sense of humor. The Journal has become more selective, with an approximately 40 percent acceptance rate, while assuring that Society members and the biophysics community at large have an affordable and fair channel to publish their best work. Ed has been extraordinarily careful in assuring the highest ethical standards during the editorial process. I know how diligently he has worked to achieve these standards because he has shared his voluminous correspondence with me over the last several months; this apprenticeship has been invaluable to me as I attempt to continue in Ed’s path. In a continuing effort to assure that BJ remains the best place to publish in our broad field of biophysics and as a response to feedback from authors and readers, there will be changes. You will begin to notice some within the next few issues:

Page limits

A decision was made several months ago to incorporate references from supplementary material into the main bibliography. This effectively reduces the page limit for the main body of a paper. To correct this and in recognition of the challenge that the page limit has posed to some authors, the bibliography will no longer be counted toward the 10 page limit, which now applies only to the text and figures. This effectively increases the overall page limit of each paper. We will also combine the paper and the supplementary material as a single download. Editorial Board Sections The names of some sections have been revised to better reflect the scope of the fields they cover. Each section will be managed by a designated Associate Editor. They are: Proteins and Nucleic Acids (Kathleen Hall); Channels and Transporters (Michael Pusch); Cell Biophysics (Michael Edidin); Membranes (Lukas Tamm); Systems Biophysics (Peter Hunter); Molecular Machines, Motors and Nanoscale Biophysics (Yale Goldman); Biophysical Reviews (Brian Salzberg). With regard to the latter, Brian has accepted the challenge of making Biophysical Reviews a regular feature of the Journal.

Table of Contents

Also starting in this issue, you will see a direct correspondence between the seven Editorial Board Sections, listed above, and the ToC headings.

Emerging Biophysical Technologies

Methods papers can be of great significance to a field and have traditionally been among the most cited BJ papers. The electronic version of the ToC will now include a highlighted “Emerging Biophysical Technology” to call attention to those exciting new physics-based methods that are regularly published in BJ.

Regular publication of New and Notable Micro-Reviews

We will identify papers that are most enthusiastically refereed and ask reviewers or editors to write short perspectives on the impact of these papers on their field. These short contributions can cite other work in addition to the newly published manuscript and should be of particular value to the non-specialist reader.

Additionally, you can expect to see increasingly rich content in the electronic version of BJ. Authors and readers may not even be aware that PDB molecular structures are already displayed and manipulated in 3D using the open source Jmol web tool (http://jmol.sourceforge.net/); see for example Buhrow et al., 2012, one of five papers with interactive protein structures in the May 2, 2012 issue of BJ. Likewise, movies and animations will be embedded in the paper just like figures. These technologies have been adopted individually by more specialized journals,but BJ will give authors and readers access to both. Additionally, BJ will support MATLAB .FIG files, so that data can be interactively visualized and all the original data can be accessed. You should see the first papers to use this technology in the next few months. In the longer term, BJ will implement technologies to visualize complex multidimensional images and simulations. Ultimately, we hope to give readers interactive features that will allow them to access and reanalyze data sets from both experiments and models. Finally, a BJ app for your iPad is slated to be released this fall!

Our biophysics community is accumulating data on the structure and dynamics of macromolecules; the detailed mechanisms of membrane channels and transporters; spatiotemporal molecular distributions in cells down to the level of single molecules; mechanics at the molecular, organelle, cell and tissue levels; and the kinetics of cell signaling and gene regulatory networks. These are the pieces of the puzzle of how cells and organisms function. The next challenge is to marshal the physics and physical chemistry that will allow us to put the puzzle pieces together. Biophysics is by definition multidisciplinary; therefore it is precisely the field that spans molecular, cell, organ and systems biology. I look forward to working with the authors and readers of BJ as we build those bridges.

Buhrow, L., S. Ferguson-Miller, and L.A. Kuhn. 2012. From Static Structure to Living Protein: Computational Analysis of Cytochrome c Oxidase Main-chain Flexibility. Biophysical Journal. 102:2158-2166.

Hodgkin, A.L., and A.F. Huxley. 1952. A quantitative description of membrane current and its application to conduction and excitation in nerve. Journal of Physiology. 117:500-544.

August 2012 Table of Contents