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AI in medicine, new therapeutics for Alzheimer's and GLP-1 for weight loss with JAMA editor-in-chief [Podcast]

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AI in medicine, new therapeutics for Alzheimer's and GLP-1 for weight loss with JAMA editor-in-chief

Jan 23, 2024

JAMA Editor-in-Chief Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD, joins to discuss what’s ahead for the publication and medicine as a whole in 2024. Dr. Bibbins-Domingo shares goals and key initiatives for JAMA in the new year and discusses what the biggest trends in medicine will be in 2024. AMA Chief Experience Officer Todd Unger hosts.

Speaker

  • Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD, editor-in-chief, JAMA

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Unger: Hello and welcome to the AMA Update video and podcast. Our guest today is the editor-in-chief of JAMA and the JAMA Network, Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, who's back in our Chicago studio to talk with us about what's ahead for JAMA in the new year.

I'm Todd Unger, AMA's chief experience officer. Dr. Bibbins-Domingo, such a pleasure to have you back.

Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: It's always a pleasure to be here.

Unger: Well, we're going to start asking you some questions about last year. And then we're going to get into what's on tap for 2024.

Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: Sure. Let's do it.

Unger: You've got a year under your belt. You look back at 2023. What do you think was your biggest accomplishment as editor for your first year?

Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: I only get one?

Unger: Just one.

Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: We're 13 strong journals across the network. And all the journals are doing really well. And so that, in and of itself, is a big accomplishment. But if I would say—we're very ambitious.

So we launched a number of new things in 2023. We held our first in-person JAMA Summit. And we brought 60 experts across the country, across the world here to Chicago to talk about how we generate evidence, clinical trials and why there's a big gap between the generation of evidence and what we do in clinical practice and what could we do to make that better.

The chief—the head of the FDA kicked us off. We had representatives from industry, from research, from clinical practice. And it was really exciting. And it's something we're going to do more of because I think journals can convene, can bring people together. And then we can publish on important issues in science and medicine on our pages afterwards.

Unger: Jeez, after years of thinking and talking about COVID, just getting back together again is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: You are so right. And sometimes, it's nice to be in the same room and to really talk about these important issues that we all know are a challenge. But what we were focused on is, how do we get better? And that's what we talked about. And that's what we want to write about.

Unger: So important to science and communication at this point. And again, last, year—still filled with a lot about COVID, a lot of interest in weight loss drugs. What do you think, going into 2024, are going to be the hot topics?

Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: Well, we are going to continue to see an explosion of new therapeutics. We had major studies published on Alzheimer's-related treatments, on weight loss—drugs for weight loss, the GLP-1 inhibitors. You'll continue to see an expansion in therapeutic areas.

And this is one thing that the network really benefits from because JAMA publishes the large trials, the practice-changing trials, the trials of the new therapeutics. But because we have an explosion in so many therapeutic areas, having the subspecialty journals related to oncology and cardiology and neurology, you're going to see a lot of the great research being published across the network.

And all of us are going to continue to be interested in artificial intelligence. It's going to continue to transform how we practice and how we discover. And it will also pose some challenges. How do we know what's real? How do we know what we can trust?

And so JAMA has already launched several discussions on this topic. But you'll continue to see more of that in the year to come.

Unger: So it's not my imagination that there seem to be more treatments coming faster.

Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: Nope.

Unger: And then you brought up the topic of AI. Are they related or what is driving that acceleration?

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Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: It's a great question. I think some of the new therapeutics are not related to AI. But all of them are related to the underpinnings. AI has been with us now for decades. And the way we use data, the way we're able to manipulate data to do it at speed, at scale—that is driving a lot of the discoveries, and then the ability to think in novel ways about how we understand what works.

So I think they are two paths that have come together at a really interesting time. And it's a really exciting time. And the role of journals at this point is figuring out—separating the hype from the real hope and what these new innovations can bring us, publishing good science and then communicating it well so that everybody understands what this all means.

Unger: Those are great goals. I love separating the hype from the hope, and of course, having that underpinning of science. So with that as context and you think about 2024, what's on the docket? What are the big goals for the year?

Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: I would say we always have to double down on what journals do well, being the place that you can trust that what we publish—we're giving the seal of approval that this is the science as we know it today. It might not be perfect. But this is what's important for you to know. But we also have got to be better at communicating it. We've got to be better at communicating quicker across many different platforms that people want to consume their information.

JAMA is going to go online-first, which means that we are publishing all our science first digitally in addition to the print that follows. I think that speaks to how we want to be faster. The fact that most people are still reading on their phones, even though we still like our print—we're reading in many different places. So you'll see us do that.

You'll see us convene another in-person meeting, JAMA Summit, on another issue of importance in science and medicine. And so I think you'll see us both behaving the way journalists have traditionally behaved to be a place you can trust and read science that you can trust, and be a—and also be a set of journals that are doing new things that really recognize how people are communicating what they need during this time of lots of innovation.

Unger: Absolutely. Is there anything, any initiative, that you're particularly excited about for the coming year?

Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: Well, I'm particularly excited about more JAMA Summits. I—which you will see more of. I know you're going to try to get me to announce what it is. But I'm not quite ready yet, Todd.

But you'll see us doing more things more quickly. And you'll see our journal and our journal editors being out there more and speaking more directly. And I think that's—it's a goal that we have because we believe that we're a really outstanding communication platform.

Unger: I think that's so interesting. I think one of the demands, having been in digital media myself for so many years, is just how many front-facing people—and that expectation that people are going to be interacting with authors. Is that how it's happening on your end, too?

Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: Exactly right. I think people want to interact with authors. Authors want to interact and to be able to explain the backstory behind what they're discovering. I think you'll see us expanding our multimedia and communicating both the long-form articles, but then the bite-sized pieces that tell you, here's what you really need to know about that. You'll see a lot more short-form things across our multimedia platforms because we publish a lot of science and many people want to delve into all of the details, but some want to just know what the bottom line is. And we think across our platforms, we have to do both.

Unger: It's so interesting because I think a lot about enthusiast audiences. And I've worked with a ton of different ones. But I hear you talking about people who read in the journal and are interested in science and research. They're their own enthusiast audience. They want—they're insatiable.

Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: Oh, you're totally right. You're totally right. When I first started, I didn't realize that people actually would want to listen to a podcast about a journal. And then I discovered my colleagues, who I used to practice. With and they would say, oh, we—oh my treadmill on Saturday morning, I always listen to the summary of JAMA so that I can hear what's going on. 

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And you realize that people are enthusiastic. They recognize this is an exciting time for science and medicine. It's hard to keep up on everything that's happening. And that's why our job as a set of journals is to always be able to give people the information on how they want to receive it. And that's what we're excited about.

Unger: Very exciting. Anything on your personal bucket list that you're looking forward to?

Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: Well, I'm ambitious for our journals. And I've been the editor-in-chief for a year and a half. And it's been a lot of growth for me to understand—to understand the team, to understand how this work works. But now I'm ambitious because we have a lot that we think that we are particularly good at doing. And this is the year to start executing on a lot of those ambitious goals.

Unger: Dr. Bibbins-Domingo, again, always great to have you here. I'm so excited by what I'm hearing. And I'll look forward to learning more in the future.

That's it for today's AMA Update. We'll be back soon with another segment. In the meantime, if you want to see any of our videos and podcasts, you can find them at ama-assn.org/podcasts. Thanks for joining us. Please take care.


Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed in this podcast are those of the participants and/or do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.

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