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Changing of the Guard: PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases bids farewell to Professor Judd Walson and welcomes Dr. Shaden Kamhawi

Serap Aksoy announces that Judd Walson will be stepping down as co-Editor-in-Chief of PLOS NTDs and Shaden Kamhawi will be taking his place.

Thank you Professor Walson for all you have done for the NTD community as co-Editor-in-Chief of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases!

PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) was established in 2007 under the exceptional leadership and guidance of its Founding Editor Peter Hotez as a platform for research and advocacy for NTDs.  As co-EIC, it has been a great honor for me to help lead efforts to guide the journal through its first decade with my friend and colleague Professor Hotez. Since January 2018, when Peter transitioned away from day-to-day journal management, Professor Judd Walson from University of Washington joined me as a fellow co-EIC. Many in the NTD community know Professor Walson through his clinical trial and implementation research in infectious diseases and his earlier work as Deputy-EIC of PLOS NTDs.  Dr. Walson is the Principal Investigator of DeWorm3, a large multi-country trial designed to demonstrate the feasibility of interrupting the transmission of soil transmitted helminths. Dr. Walson is also the Co-Director of Childhood Acute Illness and Nutrition Network (CHAIN), a large clinical platform established in six countries in Africa and Asia designed to evaluate mortality and morbidity among acutely ill children with varying degrees of malnutrition and to develop and test interventions for this high risk population. In addition to his clinical research, Dr. Walson is the Director of the Global Health Strategic Analysis and Research Training Program (START), an innovative collaboration between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the University of Washington.  As his commitments to his research and leadership responsibilities have increased over the past year, Dr. Walson regretfully will step down from day-to-day management of the journal while remaining a very active member of our community otherwise.

As co-EIC, Dr. Walson focused his efforts on reevaluating the scope of the journal to define which syndromes and diseases continue to disproportionately impact neglected populations in low-resource settings.  In addition to diseases and syndromes that have profound impacts on the gastrointestinal system, such as the soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis, giardiasis, cholera, and other enteric pathogens, he brought to the journal scope enteric infections and enteric dysfunction.  Enteric dysfunction can arise as a result of diarrheal disease, parasitic infections, alterations in the gut microbial environment, and has been linked to malnutrition, delayed cognitive development, increased susceptibility to other infectious diseases, poor oral vaccine response, and increased mortality risk. The collective long-term impacts of these conditions on the most marginalized communities are tremendous. PLOS NTDs has now developed the editorial capacity to review and publish manuscripts within this scope. In addition, he led efforts to publish a special journal supplement on gender and NTDs in collaboration with The Uniting to Combat NTDs Equity Working Group. This ongoing call will evaluate NTD research that addresses the issue of gender equity within research, organizational, policy, and practice activities at different levels of the health system to promote recognition of the necessity of mainstreaming gender and sex research within NTD studies and programs.


Welcome to new co-Editor-in-Chief of Dr. Shaden Kamhawi!

In the same spirit, we welcome Dr. Shaden Kamhawi as co-EIC as of March 2019. Dr. Kamhawi has been a Deputy Editor since 2017 and a guest co-EIC during my sabbatical leave Fall 2018. Currently an Associate Scientist at the Vector Molecular Biology Section of the intramural NIAID program at the National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD, Dr. Kamhawi spent her early career years in Jordan, her birth country. In Jordan, Dr. Kamhawi focused on investigating leishmania/sand fly epidemiology in field settings where she characterized one of the first foci of zoonotic transmission by Leishmania tropica, a predominantly anthroponotic parasite. At NIAID, Dr. Kamhawi pioneered the use of natural transmission models for vector-borne diseases and made significant contributions to the vector biology field by emphasizing the importance of vectors in the initiation and establishment of vector-borne disease. Using models of Leishmania transmission by sand fly bites, Dr. Kamhawi demonstrated that sand fly gut mictobiota are egested during bites triggering a distinct immune response in the host that is essential for parasite establishment and dissemination; she also demonstrated that Leishmania parasites persist in skin depots at bite sites where they are accessible to sand flies contributing to maintenance of infection in vector populations; she also identified the only characterized midgut receptor for Leishmania attachment in a competent vector and demonstrated the feasibility of such targets as transmission-blocking vaccines. Dr. Kamhawi’s current interests continue to focus on exploring various facets of NTD vectors with emphasis on the host immune response to vector bites. She is currently an investigator on three active clinical protocols supported by NIAID and is also involved in clinical trials of novel vaccines for leishmaniasis that incorporate vector salivary molecules. Dr. Kamhawi’s interests in neglected diseases and her expertise in the field resulted in active collaborations with multiple international partners in Brazil, the Indian subcontinent, West Africa and the Middle East. She was fundamental in setting up the leishmaniasis and sand fly research laboratory for the NIAID-ICER-MALI at the University of Bamako and continues to support and collaborate with its investigators.  Dr. Kamhawi is a strong advocate for promoting science in NTD countries and is looking forward to serving as co-EiC for PLOS NTDs.

Together with Dr. Kamhawi, I look forward to serving our NTD community in the coming year! We are both passionate about global efforts to build capacity in publication skills/ethics/practices and in training the next generation of scientists who can promote NTD research and control.  We will continue to ensure that our journal is representative of our diverse community as we tackle new and innovative approaches for peer review and open access among others. As always, we welcome your ideas and contributions!


Serap Aksoy, co-Editor-in-Chief of PLOS NTDs

Image Credit: Rebecca E. Rollins, Partners in Health

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