Editorial: Anything on the Scope? Chemical Biology and More


Chemical biology continues to be at the heart of scientific achievement. In 2012, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka for their work on G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). This work, and the efforts of chemists, structural biologists and others that followed, has ultimately transformed, even saved, many lives the world over (see our special issue on GPCRs (Issue 10, 2002), which features a Full Paper from Kobilka—ChemBioChem 2002, 3, 993–998). Modern science is a collaboration of the disciplines, and studies at the interface of biology and chemistry—the very heart of ChemBioChem’s scope—have always made important contributions to mankind’s understanding of nature, and have again been deservedly recognized.

The scope of the journal is something we often ponder and is an interesting and continuing conundrum—are there areas that should be covered more than others? If so, do they generally select themselves (in terms of manuscript submissions) or should we, the editors, with our referees’ and Editorial Advisory Board members’ advice, enhance their share of the journal’s space? How much chemistry or biology (define each as you will) should there be in a ChemBioChem manuscript?

The field of chemical biology itself continues to evolve as particular techniques become more powerful or new ones are introduced, and like anything in today’s world, it is subject to trends. However, traditional techniques, for example, in organic synthesis, biochemistry or spectroscopy, still need to be recognized as areas to which we should devote pages. Medicinal chemistry, pharmacology and drug delivery, for example, are well catered for by other journals, but what about cutting-edge (nano/bio)materials, biophysical and bioanalytical or computational studies? These are areas that, up to now, have been traditionally under-represented in the pages of ChemBioChem, but are beginning to provide answers to biologists with questions—chemical biology really has become a deeper, richer field in which more and more chemists can make valuable contributions.

Biological phenomena can be described as emergent properties of the laws of chemistry, and might one day be entirely explained at the molecular and chemical level, so to answer an earlier question, there is never too much biology in a ChemBioChem manuscript as long as it contains a strong and sound appreciation of the underlying chemistry. Our readers increasingly want to learn about real biology and so they should because chemistry and its associated techniques are giving unprecedented access to it. Omics as well as medical and live-cell imaging are good examples of this, but biological techniques have also enabled great progress in areas that are traditionally the realm of the chemist, such as natural products. Collaboration and interdisciplinary research will continue to be essential features of a ChemBioChem paper.

Perhaps, more important than an expanded scope, ChemBioChem should continue to demand rigorously high standards from its authors, and our referees should help us to protect and ensure them. Although the scope of ChemBioChem may have changed subtly since the journal’s first issue in 2000, the high quality has been maintained, or perhaps we have improved.

Indeed, 2012 was a year of continued high standards for the journal. Our impact factor was stable at around 4, and competition for our pages remained high. Table 1 shows a selection of manuscripts published last year that particularly caught the eyes of our readers, and includes two Very Important Papers (VIPs, primary research articles receiving two “very important” ratings from the referees). Ten such VIPs were published in 2012.

Table 1. ChemBioChem’s top ten most-accessed articles published in 2012.


Corresponding author(s)

Type of paper

Imaging the Sialome during Zebrafish Development with Copper-Free Click Chemistry http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/cbic.201100649

C. Bertozzi

communication (VIP)

Enzymatic Recognition of 2′-Modified Ribonucleoside 5′-Triphosphates: Towards the Evolution of Versatile Aptamers http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/cbic.201100648

R. Veedu


Bromomaleimide-Linked Bioconjugates are Cleavable in Mammalian Cells http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/cbic.201100603

S. Caddick


A Late-Stage Intermediate in Salinomycin Biosynthesis is Revealed by Specific Mutation in the Biosynthetic Gene Cluster http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/cbic.201100590

P. Leadlay

communication (VIP)

Novel Cell-Penetrating Peptides Based on α-Aminoxy Acids http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/cbic.201100682

Y.-H. Zhang

full paper

Synthesis of Cyclic Peptides and Cyclic Proteins via Ligation of Peptide Hydrazides http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/cbic.201100580

L. Liu


Directed Evolution Strategies for Enantiocomplementary Haloalkane Dehalogenases: From Chemical Waste to Enantiopure Building Blocks http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/cbic.201100579

D. Janssen

full paper

Stable Analogues of OSB-AMP: Potent Inhibitors of MenE, the o-Succinylbenzoate-CoA Synthetase from Bacterial Menaquinone Biosynthesis http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/cbic.201100585

P. Tonge, D. Tan

full paper

Bioconjugation of Green Fluorescent Protein via an Unexpectedly Stable Cyclic Sulfonium Intermediate http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/cbic.201200231

S. Caddick


Rapid Synthesis of New DNMT Inhibitors Derivatives of Procainamide http://doi.wiley.com/10.1002/cbic.201100522

C. Ferroud, P. Arimondo

full paper

Last year, manuscripts from both Germany and the USA outnumbered those submitted from any other country. Figure 1 shows a breakdown of our submissions by country. As usual, Germany, USA, China and Japan together provide around 50 % of the manuscripts submitted to ChemBioChem. The real growth here comes from the labs of India, their scientists sending us 37 % more manuscripts compared to 2011, and the quality of these manuscripts has also improved. Corresponding authors from 46 different countries sent us their research articles last year, a true reflection of the international appeal of this European-based journal.

Figure 1.

Manuscript submissions to ChemBioChem in 2012 by country of origin.

In reaching out even further to the world, ChemBioChem became more social in 2012, with the launch of our Facebook and Twitter (@chembiochem) accounts. We will continue to use these social networks to let you know about the latest articles, news and things we like from the chemical biology world. They also provide another way for you to connect with us—we hope you will “like” and “follow” us and make the most of your chance to interact with us through these social media. For more news from around the wider chemistry world, have a look at the ChemistryViews portal (http://www.chemistryviews.org) and its magazine ChemViews. These two sites are fantastic resources for news, research highlights and information on conferences.

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In July came the sad news that Ivano Bertini had passed away. A hugely popular figure within the community, he was an active member of the ChemBioChem and ChemMedChem Editorial Advisory Boards and a pioneer in the areas of bioinorganic chemistry and biomolecular NMR spectroscopy. As a tribute to his many contributions, we will publish a special issue on these topics later this year.

2013 promises to be an exciting year for the Wiley-VCH journals. Sister journal Angewandte Chemie marks its 125th anniversary. They will celebrate this achievement with a symposium at the Freie Universitaet Berlin on March 12th, with a distinguished set of speakers, including Carolyn Bertozzi, whose VIP manuscript tops our list of most-accessed 2012 articles (Table 1). Congratulations to the Angewandte team, and long may its success continue. We hope ChemBioChem looks just as good at that age!

Meanwhile, one of our younger sisters, ChemSusChem, and the European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry will become electronic-only journals from January 2013. The traditional printed scientific journal issue has come under threat more than ever before, perhaps rightly so. Electronic publishing is attractive on many fronts, but the printed journal issue also has unique qualities. We know that many of you still enjoy thumbing (rather than finger-swiping or scrolling) through the pages of ChemBioChem, and 2013 will still be a paper and electronic year for us. At the same time, the explosion of mobile device usage means that readers are looking for more up-to-date ways of viewing journal content. Currently, Angewandte Chemie issues can be browsed by using the iPad app, which was released in August 2012. Other titles, including ChemBioChem, will follow, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Finally, the whole team (Figure 2) would like to say a very big thank you to our Editorial Board and our referees for all their work for us in 2012.

Figure 2.

The ChemBioChem team. l–r: Adrian Neal (Deputy Editor), Stefanie Klein (Production Manager), Lisa Abel (Managing Editor), Saskia Neubacher (Assistant Editor), Peter Gölitz (Editor-in-Chief), Constanze Hofmann (Editorial Assistant).

Happy New Year!

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