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Editorial
January 8, 2020

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of JAMA Dermatology as a Publication of the American Medical Association, 1920 to 2020

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2Editor, JAMA Dermatology
  • 3Editor in Chief, JAMA and the JAMA Network, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA Dermatol. 2020;156(3):249-252. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2019.3776

One hundred years ago, the American Medical Association became the publisher of The Journal of Cutaneous Diseases and changed the journal’s name to Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology to align with the titles of other medical journals published by the organization. Close reading of the announcement (Box)1 of this change makes us proud to be Editor of JAMA Dermatology (K.S.) and Editor in Chief of JAMA and the JAMA Network (H.B.) at this most auspicious time for JAMA Dermatology and also inspires important reflections of where the journal has been, where it stands currently, and where it is going.

Box Section Ref ID
Box.

Announcement of the 1920 Journal Title Change

The Journal of Cutaneous Diseases, Including SyphilisArchives of Dermatology and Syphilology1

The American Medical Association, at the request of the American Dermatological Association, has taken over The Journal of Cutaneous Diseases, and assumed its publication. In conformity with the names which are being used wherever possible for other special journals published by the American Medical Association, the name will be changed to the Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology. Its editorial management will be under the supervision of an editorial board consisting of Dr. William T. Corlett, Cleveland; Dr. Martin F. Engman, St. Louis; Dr. Milton B. Hartzell, Philadelphia; Dr. George M. MacKee, New York; Dr. William Allen Pusey, Chicago, and Dr. Chas. James White, Boston. The high scientific character which The Journal of Cutaneous Diseases has maintained for thirty-seven years as one of the representative special journals of the world will be upheld. The subject of syphilology will be considered more fully in its pages than has hitherto been done, and the effort will be made to have its consideration in the pages of the Archives cover the whole subject of syphilis. In doing this there will be no lessening of the attention given to dermatology; it is hoped, in fact, that dermatology may be given still further space in its pages, and that a much larger, and perhaps better, journal in the end may be published. The Board of Trustees of the American Medical Association has adopted a most liberal policy regarding illustrations in all the special journals published by the Association; consequently our readers may be assured that reproductions of colored and black-and-white illustrations will be generously used, when available, in this journal under its new name and auspices.

Reflection No. 1: What’s in a Name? A Name That Reflects the Work That We Do

JAMA Dermatology’s origins date back to 1882, with continuous publication for 138 years. The journal’s name has changed several times throughout its history, which may reflect important shifts in the scope of practice of dermatologists: Journal of Cutaneous and Venereal Diseases (1882-1886), Journal of Cutaneous and Genito-Urinary Diseases (1887-1902), The Journal of Cutaneous Diseases, Including Syphilis (1903-1919), Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology (1920-1954), and Archives of Dermatology (1955-2012). The most recent name change for the journal took place in 2013 as part of a networkwide initiative of the JAMA Network, renaming the journal JAMA Dermatology.2 This change was made to reinforce the concept of a network of journals with a commitment to editorial and publishing excellence and innovation.

Although the announcement (Box) of the name change in 1920 affirms the journal’s ongoing commitment to feature the discussion of syphilis in its pages, the journal ultimately dropped the reference to venereology in its name by becoming Archives of Dermatology in 1955. The announcement of this name change was accompanied by an Editorial in the journal3 highlighting the 2 main reasons for eliminating the word syphilology from its title: first, to reformat the cover page to include, in addition to the table of contents, a clinical image or photomicrograph selected from 1 of the published articles; and second, to reflect the changing focus of practice. “The diagnosis and treatment of patients with syphilis is no longer an important part of dermatologic practice. . . . Few dermatologists now have patients with syphilis . . . and so continuance of the old label, ‘Syphilology,’ on this publication seems no longer warranted.”3 Cover aesthetics aside, the latter point is indeed debatable, with the persistence and recent rise of syphilis in certain populations and the ongoing important role of dermatologists in providing expert diagnostic and therapeutic care of patients with the disease.4 However, the name change of the journal foreshadowed the evolution of the dermatology workforce, with dermatology evolving from primarily a medical specialty with expertise in venereal diseases to a practice with increased surgical and cosmetic procedures and development of subspecialists in pediatric dermatology and dermatopathology.5 The advent of teledermatology has further evolved how dermatologists practice, enhancing their ability to reach underserved and rural populations in need of dermatologic specialty care. Dermatologists are not the exclusive providers of common dermatologic services, and there has been a rise in the use of advanced practice professionals to expand dermatologists’ productivity and availability in the face of restricted access, long wait times for appointments, and geographic maldistribution.6-8 Private equity acquisition of practices is rapidly changing the economic landscape of dermatology.9

Reflection No. 2: What Knowledge and Practice Gaps Exist in Dermatology?

The table of contents for the inaugural issue of Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology highlights many topics that continue to pique the interests of dermatologists (Figure 1): descriptions of rare cases of unusual infections (ringworm); the yen to understand the epidemiology of skin disease, including a statistical study of extragenital chancres; and the drive to elucidate the pathophysiologic mechanisms of skin disease, as seen in the reporting of 2 cases of precancerous dermatoses by John T. Bowen, MD. It is intriguing to see that although dermatologists recognized lichen planus as a clinical entity in 1920, the specialty 100 years later continues to strive to understand the epidemiology of this disease10 as well as the best ways to treat severe disease at special sites.11 Ongoing interest in this challenging disease is displayed in 2 articles in the current issue of JAMA Dermatology.10,11 The journal has a continued commitment to publish the best evidence regarding cutaneous diseases and their treatment, featuring high-quality research articles, systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and Clinical Evidence Synopses2 to address practice gaps and inform readers, especially in rapidly evolving areas of the field.

Figure 1.  Cover and Partial Table of Contents of Volume 1 of Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology
Cover and Partial Table of Contents of Volume 1 of Archives of Dermatology and Syphilology

Reflection No. 3: An Ongoing Commitment to Clinical Images With Attention to Privacy Issues and Diverse Representation of Skin Disease

JAMA Dermatology features high-quality clinical images that highlight new diseases and provides excellent photographs with which dermatologists can sharpen their visual recognition and awareness. An example of the published images in the last issue of Journal of Cutaneous Diseases in 1919 is shown in Figure 2. The journal announcement (Box) emphasizes the importance of publishing a generous number of high-quality images, which at the time were early photographic images of skin disease reproduced in black and white and in color, an initiative supported by the American Medical Association Board of Trustees. Providing high-quality images continues to be a priority for the journal in 2020. In 1985, the journal’s editor, Kenneth A. Arndt, MD, began publishing a special foldout section called Off-Center Fold12 that featured clinical images of clinicopathological cases with educational information on diagnoses. This popular section was converted to Clinicopathological Challenges,2 by June K. Robinson, MD, in 2013 and continues today. In a rapidly evolving landscape of digital photography and social media’s potential to rapidly and broadly disseminate images, the journal upholds the highest standards for patient privacy in the publication as it relates to case descriptions and clinical images.13 To ensure that the specialty continues to have clinical images of the highest quality to highlight insights about skin disease and teach the next generation of dermatologists, a new Images in Dermatology section was established in 2018.14 Selection of images published in this section, as well as the images used in the Patient Page section, prioritizes demonstrations of cutaneous disease in darker skin types, which are underrepresented in the dermatology literature.

Figure 2.  Image From 1919 Journal of Cutaneous Diseases
Image From 1919 Journal of Cutaneous Diseases

Example of a published clinical image taken from the last issue of Journal of Cutaneous Diseases (1919), a journal that later became JAMA Dermatology. Fordyce JA, MacKee GM. Clinical types of lichen planus. J Cutan Dis. 1919;37(12):320-331.

Reflection No. 4: The Journal Leadership Now Better Reflects Diversity Trends in the Specialty

In the past 100 years, the journal has had 12 editors, and the 2 most recent editors—spanning the past 15 years—have been women, reflecting the rising prevalence of female board-certified dermatologists. Among the current editorial board, 42% are female, mirroring the percentage of women in the specialty. This reflects the JAMA Network’s commitment to ensuring diversity and inclusion among its leadership. JAMA Dermatology is committed to diversity of individuals and academic institutions among its leadership, authors, and peer reviewers. The journal has published key articles calling for increased attention to diversity in dermatology training, clinical care, and research.15-17

Reflection No. 5: How Do We Best Measure Journal Excellence? How Can We Continue to Improve and Innovate?

In 2020, the reach of the journal continues to grow. As of December 2019, JAMA Dermatology had 17 273 followers on Twitter and 34 567 on Facebook. In 2018, the electronic table of contents was distributed to more than 332 541 individuals worldwide. In 2019, the journal had more than 3.8 million online sessions that generated more than 5.6 million views and downloads. Half of these sessions were from outside the United States, reflecting JAMA Dermatology as a true international journal. These performance metrics continue to increase each year. The journal’s impact factor has risen from 3.40 to 7.99 over the past 10 years, making it currently the highest-rated clinical dermatology journal. New initiatives have brought content to Instagram and YouTube, and podcasts featuring author interviews are available. The digital landscape changes each year, and we are committed to using new technologies to enhance the distribution of the journal.

Final Reflection: Our Commitment to the Future, With Special Gratitude to Our Authors, Reviewers, and Readers

We will honor this 100th year with the American Medical Association with a special anniversary banner displayed across the cover of the printed journal for the entire year as well as online ads celebrating the anniversary. These will serve as a reminder of our ongoing commitment to provide readers with the highest-quality information concerning the skin, its diseases, and their treatment, as outlined in the mission statement. As JAMA Dermatology enters its next century as part of the JAMA Network, we renew our commitment to highlighting the best research and opinion pieces that enhance the understanding of the burden of skin disease, establish evidence for the optimal treatment of skin conditions, and elucidate the current ethical, socioeconomic, and political issues that affect the delivery of dermatologic care. The celebration of this 100th anniversary would not be complete without extending gratitude to the authors, editors, staff, reviewers, and readers for their continuous contributions, feedback, and support to help ensure that JAMA Dermatology elevates the practice of dermatology around the world.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Kanade Shinkai, MD, PhD, Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco, 1701 Divisadero St, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94115 (kanade.shinkai@ucsf.edu).

Published Online: January 8, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2019.3776

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

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