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The Challenge of Scientific Integration

Editorial Blog

At the recent IEEE-EMBS meeting in Osaka papers and posters were presented that plumbed the gamut of engineering in the life sciences. As I discussed JTEHM with those attending the conference, it became clear that this vehicle serves a critical need. Research, by its very nature, is like the blind men describing an elephant. Each, by tactile examination, describes what he feels in the context of his own worldview. And each is correct, as far as he goes. The blind men, and the researcher, face a similar challenge: how to describe the whole elephant while remaining faithful to observing the critical granularity that makes science valuable and reproducible.

A similarly large challenge is synthesizing all those granular observations into a useful and informative picture of the elephant. But more to the point of the intersection of human biology and engineering, it is not enough to describe. Rather, the description must compel some forward-looking statements into form and function.
As investigators, we are told to be narrow and complete. “Pick an enzyme and make it your own,” I was told as a young scientist. But by doing so, investigators lose the perspective and the ability to answer the “why are we doing this” question. As I explain the zeitgeist of JTEHM at the meeting, I emphasize the integrative nature of our publication. We seek to publish work that not only answers the “what” and “how” question, but importantly, also the “why.” Critically, this has to be done without sacrificing our prized scientific depth.
For this reason we have asked that our writers show a clear path to human application, preferably by real studies. Importantly, because of our format, we can accommodate large files, video, audio, and all manner of multimedia. JTEHM is also cooperating with several organizations to enhance model and algorithm sharing through publication. More on that as it develops.

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