As immunologists, we have many goals. We focus on discovering the fundamental paradigms of our field, training the next generation of scientists, communicating our work to each other and the general public, and transforming these discoveries to the betterment of human kind. We are very good at the discovery phase and the training of students. We also are very good at conveying our discoveries to other scientists. In sharp contrast, as a group, we do not do a very good job at educating the nonscientific public on the importance of our discoveries and how they were transferred to clinical practice to improve clinical care. Part of the reason for this is that breakthroughs arise following years of diligent investigation with one advance building upon another until the amalgamation of the advances leads to the key that can be translated into the clinic. Another reason is that we do not have a professional forum to make these discoveries known. Such a forum could be used to educate the public, our government representatives, our students, and our own community to the accomplishments the field has made. For these reasons, together with the American Association of Immunologists Council, we have initiated a new section of The Journal of Immunology called Translating Immunology. From the duality of the term translating, this section will highlight immunological discoveries that have led to a treatment, drug, or diagnostic device and explain these discoveries in a historical and general sense so that both immunologists and nonimmunologists can appreciate the extent to which our discoveries advance healthcare. The articles will describe the discovery in immunological terms, how the discovery helps explain some aspect of disease risk or pathogenesis, how it translates into a medical modality, and the efficacy of the assessment or intervention.
The premiere Translating Immunology article, written by Drs. Marc Feldmann and Ravinder N. Maini, appears in this issue. It features TNF-α inhibitors and how these molecules were able to provide effective treatment and relief for millions of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Over time, we have learned that TNF blockade is therapeutic in other inflammatory diseases as well. The choice of this topic also highlights the critical importance of pure basic research that occurred in a 20-year period leading to the clinical trials on TNF inhibitors. The scientific bases for these trials were built on observations of endotoxin-mediated tumoricidal activities (1) to the molecular identification of TNF (2), also termed cachectin, the cloning of the human TNF gene (3–5), and the numerous important contributions by a multitude of scientists who sought to understand how TNF worked and regulated immune and cellular function. It is truly an amazing story with many contributors; some of the contributions are highlighted in the article.
In addition to the Translating Immunology feature of The JI, we have strived to improve the way we get the content of The JI to you. In its amazing flexibility and seemingly unlimited potential for information, the World Wide Web has become a lifeline of communication of science and life in general. To get The JI to our members faster, we now feature online accessibility to the author-approved version of all articles as they are assembled into a journal issue. This publication-ahead-of-print feature has been termed Next in The JI and has the goal of reducing the time to online publication to within 25 business days following acceptance. Next in The JI is updated three times a week and is coupled with really simple syndication (RSS) feeds and e-mail alerts so that you can be notified when articles appear. We also publish our In This Issue sections as audio feeds, which can be accessed at www.jimmunol.org/rss/jipodcast.dtl or downloaded from the iTunes Web site and enjoyed as a primer to featured articles in each issue of The JI.
We plan to publish Translating Immunology several times a year and hope that you enjoy the articles and new features. Please bring them to the attention of your colleagues, students, and trainees and even to the attention of your nonscience friends so that they can appreciate what you and your colleagues do for all of us.