Gens Una Sumus – still


Parting is such sweet sorrow William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Five years ago, this Latin phrase (‘we are one people’) was the title of my inaugural editorial for Liver International [1]. Sometimes it is hard to believe that five years have flown by so quickly. With this issue, the new editorial team led by Rajiv Jalan officially takes over at the helm of the journal. And I reflect on how the liver world and the journal have changed over this time span. My conclusion is that although both hepatology and Liver International have made important progress, the people who make up the liver world, the researchers and clinicians, despite the amazing human diversity of colours, creeds, religions, sizes and shapes, remain fundamentally One People. We share the same dreams and goals: to advance knowledge in all things liver, that we may eventually better manage those afflicted by hepatic diseases.

My tenure at Liver International is due in large part to three people whose friendship and wise counsel I have treasured for many years: Jenny Heathcote, Tom Boyer and Didier Lebrec. In the early summer of 2006, all of them called to suggest that I apply for the EIC position at the journal. I had previously given no thought to such a notion but receiving this advice from folks whose opinions I highly respect, caused me to carefully consider and eventually apply for the position.

It seems not that long ago that I invited an outstanding group of individuals to become Associate Editors. They were (in no particular order): from North America, Jenny Heathcote, Don Rockey and Hartmut Jaeschke; from South America, Marco Arrese and Adrian Gadano; from Europe, Rajiv Jalan, Richard Moreau, Jean-François Dufour and Francesco Negro; from Africa/Middle East, Sanaa Kamal and Cihan Yurdaydin; from Asia, Han Chieh Lin, Irene Ng, Young Hwa Chung and Shuichi Kaneko. After about 18 months, all the European editors except Negro, were ‘poached’ by a journal whose name I won't mention except to say that it was J Hepatol. Seriously, I did not begrudge these individuals for leaving to work at a journal with a higher impact factor, and as outstanding as they are, I soon found equally outstanding people to replace them: Paul Cales, Peter Fickert and Peter Ferenci. About two years ago, with ever-increasing submissions of papers about fatty liver, we added Steve Caldwell to the editor list. Working with such a talented and outstanding group of persons has been paradoxically both a source of great pride, yet very humbling.

I am also very proud of the international depth and breadth of the outgoing editorial board. They were each carefully considered and invited because they are either the ‘rising stars’ or established stars of the liver world. Unlike the editorial board at most journals who seem to prefer the latter, Liver International's board was predominantly composed of younger, perhaps lesser-known persons in the ‘rising star’ category.

The opportunity to work with such dedicated and excellent individuals such as the Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Manager, Martin Vinding, the Production Editor, Valerie Oliveiro, and the Assistant Editor and Editorial Manager, Hongqun Liu, was also a great privilege.

By virtually any metric, Liver International has improved in the past 5 years. Our Impact Factor has increased from 2.56 to 3.82. Our total manuscript submissions have more than doubled from about 550 per year to about 1200. Moreover, the quality of the submissions and thus of the printed papers has noticeably improved.

There were a few disappointments. One of the semi-regular features I had hoped to launch was an update ‘news’ about the state of hepatology and liver research in different countries/regions. Despite a lot of cajoling and pleading for submissions, in the end, we managed to print only two such reports, from Iran [2] and Korea [3]. I had hoped to have more debates than the one we published on albumin replacement with large-volume paracentesis [4]. And one last minor disappointment was that my suggestion [5] that the international community adopt the French name ‘foie cardiaque’ for the different syndromes of cardiac hepatopathy or liver disease/dysfunction due to cardiac causes, in honour of the pioneering work by French researchers, seems to have been completely ignored by the liver world. Come on, even Francophobes have to concede that a term like ‘torsade de pointes’ arrhythmia is so much more elegant and better-sounding than ‘twisting of the points’.

But on the whole, the joys and accomplishments far outweigh the small disappointments. As I turn over the helm to Rajiv and the outstanding team he has assembled, I leave with many wonderful memories and with the knowledge that under their able direction, Liver International will only continue to grow and flourish.