Interviews with Outstanding Authors (2022)

Posted On 2022-09-07 10:50:56

In 2022, many authors make outstanding contributions to our journal. Their articles published with us have received very well feedback in the field and stimulate a lot of discussions and new insights among the peers.

Hereby, we would like to highlight some of our outstanding authors who have been making immense efforts in their research fields, with a brief interview of their unique perspectives and insightful views as authors.

Outstanding Authors (2022)

Takaaki Oba, Shinshu University, Japan

Rocio Castillo-Larios, Mayo Clinic Florida, USA

Geok Hoon Lim, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore

Jose M. Ramia, Hospital General Universitario de Alicante, Spain

Thomas J. O’Keefe, University of California San Diego, USA

Ja Seong Bae, The Catholic University of Korea, Korea

Sara Franzi, IRCCS Foundation Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Italy

Yoshiki Chiba, Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, Japan

Jun-Ho Lee, Yeungnam University College of Medicine, Korea

Pietro Luciano Serra, University of Sassari, Italy

Takaaki Oba

Takaaki Oba is an assistant professor of Division of Breast and Endocrine Surgery, Department of Surgery at Shinshu University School of Medicine, Japan. His research area includes thyroid cancer, breast cancer, parathyroid disease. His research focuses are developing novel in situ immunotherapy for breast and thyroid cancer and identifying blood-based prognostic biomarkers for breast and thyroid cancer. Breast and thyroid cancer are malignancies which are accessible for intratumoral injections, which can be an advantage to develop in situ immunotherapy. He has already introduced novel in situ immunotherapy in a study (Oba et al. Nat Commun;11:5415, 2020, Oba et al. J Immunother Cancer;9: e002432, 2021, Oba et al. Cancer Res;81:6183-6195,2022). He aims to develop more in situ immunotherapy for breast and thyroid cancer. Dr. Oba’s personal page could be find here.

For Dr. Oba, there are two possible reasons why academic writing is important. One is that academic writing enables the gathering of knowledge. Clinicians have an obligation to choose the best treatment for the patient by referring to guidelines and other information that have been established through the convergence of knowledge. However, in a rare condition such as hyperparathyroidism in children with hypercalcemic crisis as presented in this paper, it is not possible to design a randomized clinical trial. A reference for the treatment of such conditions would be a published case report. The second is for self-improvement. In academic writing, clinicians can acquire in-depth knowledge that cannot be obtained by simply doing clinical work.

In Dr. Oba’s opinion, the requirements for a good academic paper are that the objectives of the research are clear, that an appropriate approach to those objectives is planned, and that the results are clear and universal. Furthermore, the results should contribute to the future progress of medicine.

Science advances rapidly day by day. To ensure scientific writing is up-to-date and can give new insights to the field of research, Dr. Oba thinks that individual efforts to update information are necessary. However, there is not so much that one can do on one’s own. Therefore, regular meetings are held so that researchers can share new data updates of their team.

Speaking of applying for institutional review board (IRB) approval, Dr. Oba points out that approval by Ethics Committee is mandatory. It is especially important that the research plan be reviewed by an external reviewer to ensure that it is properly designed. Without this, there is a risk that improperly and unethically designed research will be conducted.

(By Nicole J. Li, Brad Li)

Rocio Castillo-Larios

Dr. Rocio Castillo-Larios is a Research Fellow in the Department of General Surgery at Mayo Clinic Florida, USAShe is originally from Santiago, Chile, where she completed her medical training. Since graduating from medical school in 2021, she has shown an avid interest in research, focusing mainly on Bariatrics and Thoracic Surgery. Her most recent work has been studying bariatric surgery's outcomes in solid organ transplant recipients and the role of robotic bariatric revisional surgery. She is also researching lung volume surgery, a new surgical technique for Tracheobronchoplasty, and tumor markers for lung cancer. You may connect with Dr. Castillo-Larios through her Twitter @RCastilloLarios and her LinkedIn page.

GS: What are the essential elements of a good academic paper?

Dr. Castillo-Larios: First, finding an exciting topic. Research should focus on new or debatable topics on which there is not much literature available, or published reports are inconclusive. We must seek an important and primarily unanswered question to start researching on. Second, I think it is important to think: "who will benefit from these results?". Research should focus on improving patient outcomes, and our aim should be to provide patients with the best care possible. Collecting the data in a structured and methodized way is also essential. This way, we can avoid common biases. Finally, focus on writing a clear and concise manuscript. Explain everything you did and how you did it. The idea is that just by reading the methods part, someone else could reproduce it.

GS: What are the most commonly encountered difficulties in academic writing?

Dr. Castillo-Larios: One of the most common difficulties is finding a new topic. There is much research on various areas, and there are not as many unanswered questions. It is becoming more challenging to be innovative and synthesize the available information. Usually, in the discussion section, we compare our results with other studies. As there is so much information available, sometimes it is not easy to synthesize everything choosing just the most relevant results. Before writing, I like to outline the contents I will include, and the data already published about the specific topic. This way, it is easier to organize and select the most relevant information. Also, reporting limitations may be complex, but it is essential to disclose them honestly to contribute to scientific progress.

GS: Would you like to say a few words to encourage other academic writers who have been devoting themselves to advancing scientific progress?

Dr. Castillo-Larios: Research is essential. We need research to find the answer to the many existing questions. The main focus of clinical research should be patients. We must aim to give our patients the highest quality of care available, and for that, we need to investigate and make sure that we are offering them the best option. Many of the advances we have seen in the last years would not have been possible without our commitment to research.

GS: From an author’s perspective, do you think it is important to follow reporting guidelines (e.g. STROBE, CONSORT, PRISMA, etc.) during preparation of manuscripts? Why?

Dr. Castillo-Larios: I think it is important to follow them to achieve a more standardized type of research. This way, we may avoid some bias, making it easier to compare our results with the ones reported by others. Also, using them as a checklist once the manuscript is ready helps to avoid missing important information that should be included.

(By Nicole J. Li, Christopher Hau, Brad Li)

Geok Hoon Lim

Dr. Geok Hoon Lim is the Head and Senior Consultant of Breast Department at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore. She is also a Clinical Associate Professor with Duke-NUS Medical School. She has previously pursued a year-long fellowship in UK on breast cancer genetics and oncoplastic surgery.  She has several publications, mostly focusing on oncoplastic techniques applicable in Asian women. Dedicated to the care of women with breast cancer, she pioneered the minimal scar mastectomy technique and a novel technique for localizing axillary lymph nodes. Both are techniques specially catered for Asian women. She founded the Singapore Breast Oncoplastic Surgery Symposium (SBOSS) in 2015 and developed the world first virtual simulator for teaching oncoplastic surgery.

When asked about the role of academic writing in science, Dr. Lim replies that sharing is caring and she strongly believes that good science should be shared so that more people can benefit from it. She adds, “Through academic writing to share these findings, we will be able to see progress and improvement of our patients’ care.

In terms of what authors have to bear in mind during the preparation of a paper, Dr. Lim remarks that writing a paper is tedious and time consuming. “Before embarking on data collection, analysis and writing, it is important to do a literature search first to make sure that the topic you are planning to write up on will be able to contribute a novel aspect to the current literature,” she says, “I have witnessed several times a nicely prepared paper being rejected because the topic has already been extensively reviewed. This would then be a waste of the authors’ efforts.

To ensure her writing is up-to-date, Dr. Lim reveals that she tries to do so by reading the latest publications regularly. In addition, she thinks that another important thing to do, when reading about new research findings, is to think out of the box and see if these new research findings can be extrapolated to other clinical settings, hence providing the inspiration to write another paper.

Despite the heavy burden of being a scientist/doctor, Dr. Lim mentions that it is her passion to write papers to contribute to the advance of medicine, so that the patients’ care can be improved. She says, “As such, I often prioritize my time so that I will always set aside some time to do research.”

(By Nicole J. Li, Christopher Hau, Brad Li)

Jose M. Ramia

Jose M. Ramia, MD, PhD, FACS, FRCS (Eng) is the Head of Department of Surgery and Liver Transplantation at Hospital General Universitario de Alicante, Spain. He is also the Associate Professor in Universidad Miguel Hernandez, Alicante (Spain). He became MD in University of Valencia (Spain) (1990), and PhD in Complutense University Madrid (Spain) (1999). He authored 359 scientific publications, 870 congress presentations and 32 book chapters. He has also made 102 lectures at national and international congress. He is member of the editorial committee of 16 scientific journals. He is European Board Certified in Hepatobiliopancreatic Surgery since 2009 (FEBS-HPB), Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 2013 and Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 2015. He has held multiple positions in scientific societies. Dr. Ramia is currently President of the EAHPBA Scientific Committee, member of the EAHPBA Council, member of the EAHPBA Program Committee, president of the Spanish Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, member of the IHPBA Research Committee and member of the Council of the SEOQ/ESSO. He will be president of the National Meeting of Spanish College of Surgeons that will take place in Alicante in October 2023. You may connect with Dr. Ramia through his Twitter.

When asked about the role of academic writing in science, Dr. Ramia mentions that publication in a peer-reviewed journal is the goal of research projects. He adds, “It is through publication that your research reaches others in the field, advancing knowledge and encouraging communication between groups.

In terms of the most commonly encountered difficulties in academic writing, Dr. Ramia believes that the time to do it and receiving funding to perform the research, such as statistical analysis, translation, database, manuscript fees, etc., are such difficulties.

To ensure one’s writing is critical, Dr. Ramia thinks that a good author is the most critical with his/her own work. He remarks, “You know more than others the strengths and limitations of the work.” His tips are: Try to define very clearly the objectives and methodology of the study, and when one has the results, he/she has to do a very critical view of them. In discussion, he tries to comment the results being critic with them. He reads his manuscript as a possible reviewer will do. However, he notes that it is not easy to be critical with one’s own work.

Despite the fact that academic writing takes a lot of time and effort, Dr. Ramia lists several motivations to do so:

  1. The learning itself: When you write a manuscript, you have to perform a deep study and knowledge of the topic.
  2. The measurement of results: Knowing your clinical results is crucial to improve.
  3. Answering unsolved questions: in the daily practice, you face unsolved questions, so writing your results could help you and perhaps other surgeons to perform a better clinical practice.

Additionally, Dr. Ramia thinks that authors disclosing their Conflict of Interest (COI) is crucial to win the confidence of readers. “Readers should be in no doubt that the research is not influenced by any commercial interest,” he says, “As I commented before, research without funds is mostly impossible but if readers are not absolutely convinced that research is without COI, they would not fully trust the results.

(By Nicole J. Li, Christopher Hau, Brad Li)

Thomas J. O’Keefe

Tom O’Keefe is a general surgery chief resident at the University of California San Diego, USA where he completed a two-year research fellowship in the Division of Breast Surgery and the Comprehensive Breast Health Center. He worked on the synthesis and characterization of several theranostic radiopharmaceutical agents and performed outcomes research on patients diagnosed with DCIS and invasive breast cancer using local institutional data as well as population-based registries. He presently focuses on outcomes research with particular focus on the identification of patients with high-risk DCIS. 

GS: Why do we need academic writing? What is so important about it?

Dr. O’Keefe: Academic writing is important because frequent reengagement with and assessment of the advancements being made on the clinical, translational, and basic science fronts is necessary to promote the furthering of patient care. There is a known significant delay in the time it takes for translational research to reach the bedside. Well-performed academic writing may help accelerate this process and foster a deeper understanding of the concepts being communicated to the audience of clinical practitioners.

GS: What do you regard as a good academic paper?

Dr O’Keefe: A good academic paper is one which both presents a novel idea and does so within appropriate confines of the data used. There exists an abundance of literature that reaffirms the current management and guidelines for a given pathology. While such analyses are safe in the sense that the authors writing them and the journals publishing them are unlikely to receive any significant criticism for their work, they also meaningfully advance neither the management of the pathology of interest nor the discourse surrounding it. They have a net neutral effect on the thinking regarding the subject matter. The increasing prevalence of these types of analyses likely stems from a higher rate of growth in the number of biomedical journals relative to the rate of growth in high-quality clinical investigations.

However, novelty should not be pursued at the expense of integrity. An academic paper’s conclusions should not overreach what can be reasonably drawn from its data and analysis. The delineation of this boundary is a shared endeavor between author and journal, but adequate evidence should be provided within the manuscript to allow readers to assess for themselves whether this was achieved.

GS: What are the qualities an author should possess?

Dr. O’Keefe: The most important quality an author should possess is a sophisticated understanding of the existing body of literature for the subject matter under investigation. This is particularly important for retrospective outcomes research for which flawed conclusions can be easily drawn as a result of the availability of large, publicly accessible datasets with intricate, sometimes counterintuitive coding rules combined with proprietary software that allows for the performance of complex analyses without an adequate understanding of the underlying models and related assumptions. While it is impossible in such studies to eliminate all forms of bias, most notably confounding, a deep knowledge of the subject matter allows for the minimization of such interfering factors.

An almost equally important quality an author must possess is a sense of creativity and ingenuity. While evidence attained from well-designed, well-executed randomized controlled trials and carefully performed systematic reviews and meta-analyses represent the ideal for the furthering of biomedical knowledge, they are limited by the time, resources, and patient accruals required for prospective trials. The identification of meaningful gaps in the body of existing high-quality literature for a given topic and the design of studies to address such gaps allows for meaningful progress to be made.

GS: From an author’s perspective, do you think it is important to follow reporting guidelines (e.g. STROBE, CONSORT, etc.) during preparation of manuscripts? Why?

Dr. O’ Keefe: Reporting guidelines are critical for the preparation of manuscripts because they represent the minimum necessary essentials that must be included in a paper to allow for the determination by audiences of the validity of the study. Responsibility for the appropriate assessment and use of the results of a clinical study is ultimately shared among the author, the publishing journal, the peer reviewers, and the clinical practitioner who reads the study and wishes to apply the findings to their practice. The only entity that does not have the ability to freely inquire about the details of the study at the time of perusal is the clinical practitioner, who engages with the work after its publication. Reporting guidelines provide a minimum standard to allow the reader a fair opportunity to assess the worth of the work without having to directly engage the author for additional information.

(By Nicole J. Li, Christopher Hau, Brad Li)

Ja Seong Bae

Ja Seong Bae is a professor of Division of Endocrine Surgery, Department of Surgery, Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea, Korea. His research area includes thyroid cancer, and parathyroid disease. His research has mainly focused on pathological and genetic aspects of papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) , the methodology of surgery for thyroid cancer and prognosis of thyroid cancer. He recently investigated differences between tall cell variant PTC and classic PTC with tall cell feature with respect to clinicpathological characteristics and oncologic outcomes. You may refer to the article: (Kim K, Jung CK, Lim DJ, Bae JS, Kim JS) Comparison of the clinicopathological features and oncologic outcomes of the classic papillary thyroid carcinoma with tall cell features and tall cell variant. Gland Surg. 2022 Jan;11(1):56-66). You may find more about Dr. Bae’s work through his SciProfile page and his faculty page.

Dr. Bae argues that academic writing is essential not only for one’s own research, but also for continuing to study basic sciences and embrace the latest research. He adds, “Medicine continues to develop, and especially as a surgeon, where methodology is important, it is necessary to accept the change more flexibly.

When asked about what he regards as a good academic paper, Dr. Bae replies, “The design of the study is the most important start. A good study can be designed only when the basic knowledge and rich foundation of existing literature are supported. Also, reliable results are derived from appropriate samples that are representative of the population and can be applied worldwide.”

For authors who are preparing a paper, Dr. Bae reminds them to bear in mind that even if the desired result is not obtained, it is also valuable if the sample can be representative of the population. It is necessary to manage the accuracy of data and select an appropriate statistical analysis method so that reliable results can be obtained.

Dr. Bae acknowledges that it is very difficult for every surgeon to dedicate time to research and writing papers. To allocate time to write papers, the first thing he does is to share ideas that come up in his daily life with all his team members, including juniors or senior doctors and nurses. He remarks, “By sharing topics that may pass and be forgotten, you can conduct research with your team, which is a great opportunity for trainees as well.” In addition, he notes that it is important to maintain the continuity of research through regular research meetings. Furthermore, he cooperates with other doctors such as endocrinologists and endocrine pathologists. He notes, “Even if you go slowly, it is the best way to keep going.”

(By Nicole J. Li, Christopher Hau, Brad Li)

Sara Franzi

Dr. Franzi currently works in the Thoracic Surgery and Lung Transplantation Unit at Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Italy. She is a clinical researcher and works mainly on projects focused on lung graft rejection. One of her projects poses particular attention to the deregulated expression of several microRNAs, in the bronchoalveolar liquid of transplanted patients with acute or chronic rejection (PMID 32548241). Now she is focusing on the potential role of microvesicles, extracted from the BAL of patients, in chronic graft rejection. Besides, she highly contributes to another project aimed at studying the role of donor-derived circulating free DNA (ddcfDNA) as a precocious marker of graft rejection, starting from the liquid biopsy of transplanted patients.

Speaking of academic writing, Dr. Franzi stresses that it is a crucial tool for scientific dissemination. It is important for researchers, clinicians and academics to keep updated on the different research topics, other than stimulating a lot of discussions and new insights among peers.

In Dr. Franzi’s opinion, a good academic paper should start with a grabbing title, so that the readers have an idea of what the paper is about. The first paragraph should also have short and snappy sentences that are easier to read. She states that each author should present his or her results clearly and easy to be understood.

Academic writing takes a lot of time and effort, but Dr. Franzi believes that every researcher or clinician knows that data dissemination is a crucial part of their job. It helps them to share knowledge, other than to exchange views with other peers and improve the research activities.

(By Nicole J. Li, Brad Li)

Yoshiki Chiba

Dr. Chiba is currently a thoracic surgeon in the Department of Thoracic Surgery, Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, Japan. His research focus is investigating minimally invasive surgeries for primary and metastatic lung cancers and mediastinal tumors. In particular, he has been exploring the application of robot-assisted thoracic surgery in patients with lung cancer and mediastinal tumors. Recently, his main research topic of interest is the double-loop technique (DLT); his group previously reported this technique as a possible clamping method for the pulmonary artery in thoracoscopic anatomical lung resection (Watanabe A, et al. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2007;31:129-131). In the exploring pulmonary artery clamping, he clinically and histologically compared the DLT with other currently available clamping techniques and evaluated its effectiveness and safety of the DLT. More information about Dr. Chiba could be found on ORCID and Researchgate.

As an author, Dr. Chiba believes that authors should be willing to explore clinical questions that they encounter on a regular basis. This will be the purest and most effective driving force during the preparation of a paper.

Academic writing often involves evidence synthesis. In Dr. Chiba’s opinion, author should construct a hypothesis that is as accurate as possible. Referring to existing reports in the research field of interest is necessary to confirm the proposed study’s novelty and appropriate sample size before commencing with the academic writing. Subsequently, appropriate inclusion criteria should be established during the research design phase. In addition, during this phase, it is also important to ascertain as accurately as possible the variation within the population and the confounding factors among the variables.

To avoid biases in one’s writing, Dr. Chiba shares his insights with us, “First, as mentioned before, it is important to understand the variation within the population and the confounding factors in one’s research. This will assist the author in recognizing biases during the research design phase. The accurate recognition of these biases may allow for the selection of statistical methods that adjust for them. In our study, the inverse probability of treatment weighting method was utilized to adjust the variance (Chiba Y, Gland Surg. 2022 Aug;11(8):1287-1300). Second, the author’s description should be based on objective facts obtained from data to avoid arguing in support of a personal hypothesis. Finally, biases that cannot be eliminated should be honestly stated as limitations.

For Dr. Chiba, the process of academic writing deepens one’s knowledge in the research field of interest. He believes that writing even one paper is very important, as it allows the author to think about clinical practice from an academic perspective. Consequently, the quality of the one's academic mind and clinical practice will be enhanced. Furthermore, academic writing provides the author with opportunities to interact with experts in the field.

(By Nicole J. Li, Brad Li)

Jun-Ho Lee

Jun-Ho Lee is the head professor and chairman of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Yeungnam University Medical Center, Daegu, Korea. He is also chairman of the regional society of Korean Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. His research area includes aesthetic and reconstructive breast surgery. His research focuses on implant-based breast reconstruction with the acellular dermal matrix. His latest paper “Long-term ultrasonographic and histologic changes in acellular dermal matrix in implant-based breast reconstructions" will be published in PRS journal.

GS: What are the most commonly encountered difficulties in academic writing?

Dr. Lee: At the resident training hospital, we mostly write papers together with the residents. The residency training process is very hard labor. While training residents, writing a paper together is a familiar but difficult situation. Writing several papers to get board is essential for residents in Korea. So, we cannot accommodate any convenience. Therefore, it is always difficult to keep a balance between research and clinical practice.

GS: Academic writing often involves evidence synthesis. Can you share tips on selecting the appropriate evidence for synthesis and analysis?

Dr. Lee: Usually, papers showing significant results are often published well, so results that are not significant are often discarded by reviewers or researchers. However, these results can also show strong evidence during the evidence synthesis process and can be combined with other data to show significant results. I hope that these data will lead to publication, and I think these data should be shared and collected.

GS: Academic writing takes a lot of time and effort. What motivates you to do so?

Dr. Lee: I am most motivated when I attend an academic conference and listen to the research results of my colleagues around me. They inspire me to another study and they are also a powerful driving force. They are my companions, my competitors, and my muse.

GS: Data sharing is prevalent in scientific writing in recent years. Do you think it is crucial for authors to share their research data? And why?

Dr. Lee: Plastic surgery developed later than other medical departments. And the numbers of researchers and patients are fewer than in other departments. For this reason, I think it is necessary to increase the number of research subjects by sharing the data with each other in multiple institutions.

(By Nicole J. Li, Brad Li)

Pietro Luciano Serra

Dr. Serra is a Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery resident at the University of Sassari, Italy. At the moment, he is attending a Fellowship at the Plastic Surgery Department of the Consorcio Hospital General Universitario De Valencia, Spain. He was born in Cagliari, Italy, where he completed with honor his medical studies in 2018. Later, he moved to Sassari to start the residency program. Since he was a student, he has been driven by the desire for knowledge and he has always had it clear in his mind that he wanted to do research and pursue a university career. In particular, he is author of several papers and participated to many congresses as speaker. His research area involves Breast, Skin and Head & Neck Cancers Reconstruction, without neglecting the Aesthetic Surgery of the Breast and the Face. You may follow him on Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram.

GS: What are the most commonly encountered difficulties in academic writing?

Dr. Serra: The writing of a scientific paper is a long process that I like to compare to an obstacle course. First of all, you have to be sure you are bringing something innovative to the current scientific literature and ask yourself: “Am I writing anything new? Has anybody else already spoken about it?”. For sure, much has already been said, but more has to be said and still many are the unsolved questions and open debates.

Another challenging aspect, for non-native English speakers, is the use of scientific and academic English. Very often in the university students are not taught how to write in English properly and, as a consequence, the manuscript may not be clear, precise or incisive.

Nevertheless, in my opinion, the most demanding part of writing a paper is the revision that the reviewers of the journal suggest. In fact, in this moment, although the biggest part of the work seems to be already done, you must be very precise in answering the specific questions of the reviewers. Although the comparison with renowned scientists is stimulating, very often, it takes a lot of time and study to do it. Moreover, in this phase, you should tailor your manuscript in accordance with the criteria of the journal you are applying for. It is not uncommon, after the revision process, to end up with a completely different manuscript from the original. However, this is the beauty of science: you know where the path begins, but not where it will end.

GS: How to ensure one’s writing is critical?

Dr. Serra: I am strongly persuaded that the originality of the paper is one of the most important part and the first step to address. Consequently, it is crucial to study thoroughly the previous published scientific literature in order to be aware of what it has already been described. Once you are sure that your work will be original, you have to decide exactly what you want to study and the way you want to do it; in fact, the draw of the study should be thorough and an accurate description of the “materials and methods” must follow.

Once completed this part, the long phase of the study itself and collection of data starts. After that, it is essential the statistical processing and description of the results. This part is crucial and I believe that a good doctor must be familiar with statistical tools as well. I love to perform this part by myself because it represents the real moment in which you find out whether your work is good or not.

Furthermore, the “discussion” paragraph should be a sum of the published literature and a comparison with the results of your paper. In the end, I think that the language used in a paper must be clear, synthetic, accurate and effective.

GS: The burden of being a scientist/doctor is heavy. How do you allocate time to write papers?

Dr. Serra: Surely, being both a doctor and a researcher at the same time is not easy. In fact, you spend most of the days taking care of patients with dedication and empathy and this is the most satisfying part of your job. However, I think also that in order to do it in the best possible way, it is equally important to study and be up to date as much as we can. Certainly, it is not uncommon to go to bed late at night but the research is one of my greatest passions and I do not find it heavy to dedicate to it most of my spare time.

GS: Why is it important for a research to apply for institutional review board (IRB) approval? What would happen if this process is omitted?

Dr. Serra: In my opinion, it is crucial for a research to apply for and consequently obtain the IRB approval because human rights and welfare are the basis and first principle of medicine. They always must be respected: “Primum non nocere” as Hippocrates, father of medicine, said. Moreover, written consent should always be obtained by the participants and they must be aware of all the risks related to the research. Omitting the process can be related to very serious consequences both morally and legally such as the radiation from the medical register.

(By Nicole J. Li, Brad Li)