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April 12, 2022

Meet JAMA's new editor-in-chief: Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo

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    Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a professor, chair of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics, and vice dean for population health and health equity at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine, has been named the new editor-in-chief of JAMA—making her the first person of color and second woman to lead the medical journal.

    In March 2021, JAMA's editor-in-chief Howard Bauchner was placed on administrative leave following outcry over the release of a podcast that questioned the existence of systemic racism within the medical profession. The comments in question were made by JAMA editor Edward Livingston—who resigned soon after—during the podcast and later paraphrased in a promotional tweet.

    Phil Fontanarosa has served as interim editor-in-chief since March 2021, and Bauchner officially resigned in June 2021.

    JAMA names Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo as editor-in-chief

    The American Medical Association (AMA), which oversees JAMA, announced Monday that Bibbins-Domingo will be the journal's new editor-in-chief, effective July 1.

    Bibbins-Domingo graduated from Princeton University and earned her PhD in biochemistry and has a master's degree in clinical research from UCSF. Alongside being a professor, department chair, and vice dean at UCSF, Bibbins-Domingo also co-founded the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center and served as a member, vice chair, and chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

    During a press conference, Bibbins-Domingo said she intends to restore JAMA as a "trusted voice" in health care, adding that the new position is "a dream job."

    A variety of global forces, including health disparities and climate change, "shape how we think about health," Bibbins-Domingo said. "It's the responsibility of a journal like JAMA and the JAMA Network to be able to put science in context of these broader forces … I think there's never been [a] more important time for JAMA to be that trusted voice.

    She added, JAMA has an opportunity to "not only help readers make sense of our changing world, but to communicate science and scientific discovery in a way that actually advances clinical practice, advances the health of all of our patients, and improves the health of the population nationally and globally."

    Bibbins-Domingo added that the podcast episode that led to Bauchner's resignation was especially difficult for her.

    "It was painful for me because I do look to [JAMA] and to the high-profile journals to shape the way medicine will move in the future," she said. "It reflected a scientific blind spot and you never want that to happen in a journal."

    She added that "the naming of structural racism … is critical to understanding health and to understanding the stark inequities we see in health."


    The appointment was met with immediate, widespread support on Twitter, STAT News reports.

    James Madara, CEO and EVP of AMA said he is "confident Dr. Bibbins-Domingo—with her remarkable professional background ranging from basic science to an array of scholarly approaches to clinical studies—will effectively advance JAMA's mission that accelerates clinical research into practice at this critical time in health care in the U.S. and in global public health."

    Otis Brawley, a professor of oncology and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins university who led the search for a new editor-in-chief, said Bibbins-Domingo "is a first-rate physician-scientist with broad and deep credentials spanning biochemistry, clinical science, population science and academic research."

    Brawley added that Bibbins-Domingo's work at UCSF as well as her work with USPSTF, "uniquely qualifies her to be [JAMA's] next editor-in-chief." (Firth, MedPage Today, 4/11; Asplund, Crain's Chicago Business/Modern Healthcare, 4/11; McFarling, STAT News, 4/11)

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