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For the month of June 2022, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases would like to recognize Abdallah Samy, PhD for his outstanding work and dedication to the journal in his role as an editor. As a community journal, our editorial board is made up entirely of volunteers who donate their time and expertise to the neglected tropical diseases research community in order to create a reliable and thorough peer review process that disseminates vital NTDs open access research. Since joining our editorial board as a Guest Editor, working his way through the ranks to become an Associate Editor and then a Deputy Editor, Professor Samy has handled over 150 manuscripts. In addition to his admirable commitment as an editor, he has also been an engaged reviewer and author for PLOS NTDs.
Abdallah Samy is currently an Assistant Professor and Research Scientist at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt. His research group has expertise in vector-borne diseases, disease burden analysis, and health economics, while his own research addresses several questions at the interface of ecology, epidemiology, public health, and global health. He is broadly interested in studying zoonosis, arboviral epidemiology, and health and climate change, using an interdisciplinary and multi-faceted approach to research questions, typically using a combination of field and lab experiments, geographic information system, remote sensing, ecological modeling, and phylogeography. Professor Samy’s current work focuses on arboviruses and mosquito-borne diseases is focused on developing disease forecasts, understanding the major drivers of disease spread, and identifying the possible shifts in disease risk in response to global warming in the future.
We at PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases extend our deepest thanks to Professor Samy for his tireless work on behalf of those afflicted with neglected tropical disease and open access research. Please take a moment to read through our interview with Abdallah to learn more about his research and his involvement with theNTDs research community and journal.
Please tell us a bit about your research.
My research team has a broad range of exciting research on key neglected tropical diseases. In 2014, my team and I developed a study on mycetoma in Sudan. Mycetoma affects the health of farmers, herdsmen, children, and others in close contact with the land in tropical and subtropical regions of our planet. Our research developed the first maps of mycetoma in Sudan to recognize the areas at risk of mycetoma occurrence for better surveillance programs in Sudan, particularly, if It’s still challenging and hard to treat patients with mycetoma. My colleagues and I also tried to find an answer for the possible routes of infection by comparing known cases of mycetoma with Acacia tree distribution in Sudan.
Another study conducted by my research group developed a detailed map that weighed different drivers of Zika transmission during the 2015 Brazilian outbreak. The resulting map predicted the likelihood of Zika exposure by segmenting Earth’s landmasses into squares of 3.1 x 3.1 miles (5 x 5 km) each and crunching the numbers for each of them. The course of the outbreak thus far was similar to what our team’s map predicted with a high degree of specificity.
These two examples reflect the importance of our research conducted at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute, the University of Kansas Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and at Ain Shams University to track disease spread and assess their potential distributions across the world. Since my arrival at Ain Shams University, we have developed an international research group that developed several similar studies to test similar questions. We are also a part of the MediLabSecure European project and the African Network of Neglected Tropical Diseases that maintain active training programs in the region. Thus, it allowed our work to expand to include regional training programs that were established in many African countries.
You can read some of Professor Samy’s aforementioned research, as well as additional work, at his ORCID ID page: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3978-1134
What is the benefit of being involved with a community journal like PLOS NTDs?
As an Editor with a community journal like PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, you’ll gain many important benefits from PLOS NTDs, including:
- Your network will expand to include fellow editorial board members around the world, and they could provide leads on professional opportunities or introduce you to new contacts in your discipline.
- Editorship may enhance your reputation and create visibility in large communities.
- Editors may benefit from seeing the latest research in their field before publication and build numerous networks and collaborations.
What trends do you foresee in the neglected tropical diseases research field?
Neglected tropical diseases research is a fast-growing field of research. I would anticipate exponential increases in the neglected tropical diseases research. These rapid increases are triggered by many factors; the list of NTDs is updated to include more diseases, development of new diagnostic protocols, active surveillance and control programs, new emergence events or new virus spread, evaluation of available treatment regimens, development of new drugs, and application of Mass drug administration (MDA). All these topics are the same topics covered by the articles submitted to PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
As the trend of NTDs research, I can see a parallel increase also in the funding available for NTDs research too.
What advice do you have for authors submitting to the journal?
As a Deputy Editor of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, I am often receiving this question. Since I was appointed as an editor in PLOS NTDs, I’ve read hundreds of manuscripts and written hundreds of decision letters. The obvious answers to this question include:
- Perform rigorous and significant research.
- Follow submission guidelines.
- Know the audience of your research and try to hook them to your manuscript.
- Write a clear manuscript that highlights the significance of your research.
- Provide an easy-to-read story about your research.
- Carefully write a sharp abstract that is your article’s first impression.
- Carefully read your submitted manuscript for any errors prior to submission.