Reviewer of the Month (2023)

Posted On 2023-10-23 14:38:28

In 2023, CCTS reviewers continue to make outstanding contributions to the peer review process. They demonstrated professional effort and enthusiasm in their reviews and provided comments that genuinely help the authors to enhance their work.

Hereby, we would like to highlight some of our outstanding reviewers, with a brief interview of their thoughts and insights as a reviewer. Allow us to express our heartfelt gratitude for their tremendous effort and valuable contributions to the scientific process.

January, 2023
Ehab Billatos, Boston University Medical Center, USA

September, 2023
Edris A. F. Mahtab, Erasmus Medical Center, The Netherlands

November, 2023
Yoichiro Hamamoto, Jiahui International Hospital, China

December, 2023
Kim Styrvoky, UT Southwestern Medical Center, USA

January, 2023

Ehab Billatos

Dr. Ehab Billatos is a physician-scientist with a specific interest in lung cancer detection. He serves as the Principal Investigator for the DECAMP consortium (Detection of Early Cancer Among Military Personnel) which aims to improve the early diagnosis of lung cancer via biomarker validation and development from minimally invasive specimens. This is a multi-center trial sponsored by the Department of Defense, the National Cancer Institute, Johnson and Johnson, and Novartis pharmaceuticals. He also serves in several clinical roles, including the Director of Inpatient Pulmonary Clinical Services, the Director of the Pleural Disease Service, and the Director of Bronchoscopy at Boston University Medical Center.

Peer review plays an important role in science, in Dr. Billatos’ view, by defining the validity of a proposed project and ensuring that it meets the rigorous criteria for accuracy. Peer review also helps to establish a project’s significance and relevance to the field such that the findings contribute to the overall body of knowledge on a given topic. Finally, peer review underscores that the research is novel and original as a means of complementing the already established paradigms of scientific or medical literature.

In Dr. Billatos’ opinion, bias is certainly inevitable in peer review, but there are ways to minimize or at least reduce it. He points out that it may be helpful for one to blind himself/herself to the authors of the publication he/she is reviewing at least in part to appraise the manuscript and its findings independent of who is saying it. This helps to assign the appropriate value to a manuscript dependent solely on the merits of the findings themselves. Other ways in which a peer reviewer can minimize bias is to keep an open mind as to the approaches suggested in the manuscript and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of an analysis regardless of whether it concurs with one’s own potential style. He believes there may be more than one way to answer the same question.

In the hope of encouraging other reviewers who have been devoting themselves to advancing scientific progress behind the scenes, Dr. Billatos says, “I would encourage them to step forward and offer their expertise to the scientific/medical community in a way that allows more direct interaction with other experts in the field. Peer review can become a tool to promote collaborations and share ideas. This will only help to advance the field further and should be encouraged and appreciated.”

(by Brad Li, Alisa Lu)

September, 2023

Edris A. F. Mahtab

Dr. Edris Mahtab started studying medicine at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands in 2002. In 2008, he got his PhD degree under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Gittenberger-de Groot at the Department of Anatomy & Embryology of the Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden with the thesis: 'Podoplanin and the Posterior Heart Field: Epicardial-Myocardia Interaction'. He Graduated Cum Laude as a MD at the University of Leiden in 2010. From 2010 to 2012, Dr. Mahtab followed general surgery training at Medical Center Haaglanden in The Hague, followed by training as a cardiothoracic surgeon at the Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden from 2012-2016. Since 2016, he is as cardiothoracic surgeon full staff member of department of cardiothoracic surgery at Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam. He then received assistant professor degree and has been a senior university lecturer since 2020. Dr. Mahtab is a dedicated coronary surgeon, dedicated minimally invasive cardiothoracic surgeon, and a dedicated thoracic surgeon as well as one of the leading lung transplantation surgeons and the coordinator of the lung organ perfusion program at Erasmus MC. He is also the lead of several (post-)graduate educational programs. He is the PI of several scientific projects and supervises a number of PhD trajectories. He is the co-inventor of several educational Virtual Reality based simulators and planning tools. Since 2021, he has been a surgical consultant at Zan Mitrev Clinic in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia and coordinator of the local thoracic surgery program.

Dr. Mahtab emphasizes that peer review is important. The scientific work is assessed by the experts from the field to value the scientific importance and quality. Furthermore, in his opinion, it would be much more effective to have the process more interactive with the editor and co-reviewers and after that provide one document with overall opinion and decision.

Dr. Mahtab points out that sometimes when he reviews, he finds it difficult to get the whole picture and to understand the intentions of the authors, regardless of the content and relevance, or how that research was poorly designed or written. In this perspective, available reporting guidelines would be of great support for the authors.

The scientific world has invested in my development, so peer reviewing is one of the ways I can do something back to the scientific community,” says Dr. Mahtab.

(By Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

November, 2023

Yoichiro Hamamoto

Dr. Hamamoto is a pulmonologist. He graduated from St. Marianna University School of Medicine in Japan in 1999. Since 2013, he has conducted bronchial asthma research at the Meakins-Christie Lab at McGill University in Canada. After returning to Japan, he earned a degree in lung cancer palliative care. He is currently involved in daily clinical practice focused on lung cancer treatment, actively educates young patients, and conducts numerous clinical studies. Since 2022, he has worked as a Respiratory Specialist and Internal Medicine Physician at Jiahui International Hospital in Shanghai, China. Connect with him on Facebook.

In Dr. Hamamoto’s opinion, existing peer-review systems seem unable to audit reviewers. Implementing a system to audit reviewers can be quite complicated, therefore, it is necessary to select reliable reviewers with up-to-date backgrounds and achievements. Conducting peer reviews is extremely challenging and the compensation for peer review is not financial. However, with the introduction of the internet and various technologies, it is apparent that the quality and number of peer reviews that can be conducted have increased significantly compared to a decade ago. He believes it may be useful to leverage software such as Endnote. He uses it often when writing papers, and it allows him to easily manage peer-reviewed papers by reviewers.

In short, what motivates Dr. Hamamoto to do peer reviewing is also the purpose behind his lifelong study though it is often non-profitable. He worked in both large as well as small organizations, and during that time, he realized that it is not about the size of the organization, but about what one can do – and that is his motivation. Peer reviews can be done at any time and from anywhere – he has consistently received many requests for peer reviews during his time in Japan and Canada, as well as now that he is practicing in China. This highlights that he is trusted as an individual rather than an organization and it allows him to connect with new researchers, which he believes is very useful in his daily clinical work.

There are two points that reviewers must be aware of while reviewing papers, according to Dr. Hamamoto. First, whether the research in the paper has been conducted appropriately, and second, whether the beginning, development, and conclusion are clearly summarized in writing. Additionally, if English is not one’s native language, proofreading one’s English text can be of use. “When I wrote my first paper, I remember trying very hard to mirror other papers, however, it meant that originality was lost. Currently, I find myself looking forward to thinking and writing in my own words and completing my own dissertations. Of course, it is important to follow conventions and writing rules,” adds he.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)

December, 2023

Kim Styrvoky

Dr. Kim Styrvoky, MD, FCCP, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, and member of its Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. She serves as the Medical Director of Interventional Pulmonary at UT Southwestern, and Medical Director of Bronchoscopy and Lung Diagnostics Clinic at Parkland Health. Her clinical focus is interventional pulmonology with an interest in lung nodules, robotic-assisted bronchoscopy, and advanced diagnostic and therapeutic bronchoscopy. Dr. Styrvoky holds a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and history from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, where she graduated summa cum laude. She earned her medical degree at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and completed residency training in internal medicine at UT Southwestern, where she also received advanced training through a fellowship program in pulmonary and critical care medicine followed by training in interventional pulmonary. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Peer review serves to impartially assess and provide constructive feedback to authors on manuscripts during the publication submission process. Due to the potential for conscious or subconscious biases, Dr. Styrvoky points out that the reviewer should be cognizant of any potential biases including relationships with the authors, institution, or region the paper originates, conflicts of interest, or reactions to potential novel or unexpected findings. If the reviewer is unable to provide an impartial review, they should decline the invitation. Manuscripts should be assessed on the merits of their findings, with the overall goal to help the authors improve their manuscript submission. Open peer review increases transparency and encourages reviewers to provide the authors with constructive feedback to improve their manuscript.

The work reviewers provide in assessing manuscripts and providing feedback is instrumental in ensuring high-quality research is published. Since every author is a potential reviewer, serving in both capacities improves the overall process and quality of manuscripts. For me personally, performing review work allows me to stay at the forefront of advances within my field and has made me a better researcher and author,” says Dr. Styrvoky.

Speaking of the reason that she chooses to review for CCTS, Dr. Styrvoky indicates that CCTS publishes high-quality manuscripts on all aspects of the rapid advancements within thoracic space. She is honored to serve as a reviewer for CCTS.

(by Lareina Lim, Brad Li)