Hollings director lauds researchers for high-impact work

January 12, 2023
a man is flanked by a man and woman holding large awards
MUSC Hollings Cancer Center director Dr. Raymond N. DuBois, center, presented Drs. Jezabel Rodriguez Blanco and David Long with the center's High Impact Publications Award. Photo by Clif Rhodes

MUSC Hollings Cancer Center director Raymond N. DuBois, M.D., Ph.D., honored two of the center’s up-and-coming researchers this week with the High Impact Publications Award. The award recognizes excellent work that has appeared in a high-impact journal with a Hollings researcher as a first or primary author.

The honorees for publications appearing in 2022 are Jezabel Rodriguez Blanco, Ph.D., for her paper “Noncanonical activation of GLI signaling in SOX2+ cells drives medulloblastoma relapse” in Science Advances, and David Long, Ph.D., for his paper “BRD4 promotes resection and homology-directed repair of DNA double-strand breaks” in Nature Communications.

“It’s very difficult to publish in these high-impact journals,” DuBois said. “It sometimes takes a whole year to get one of these manuscripts published because, in my experience, you have to go back and forth with the journal and undertake a number of additional experiments to answer all of the reviewer's questions.”

It’s always a balance for a researcher to decide whether to pursue publication in a high-impact journal in which reviewers will demand additional experiments and answers or in a medium-intensity journal or a journal that allows immediate publication but lacks peer review. The immediate publication became the more popular option for COVID-related research during the pandemic because scientists wanted to get information out as quickly as possible. And sometimes, Long said, a researcher might want to lay claim to an idea by publishing quickly and then following up with publication in a more rigorous journal.

But the result of publishing in these high-impact journals is a more complete picture, Long said, rather than an interesting finding without further context.

And because the science has been so vigorously reviewed, these publications often lead to more funding to build upon the research. Blanco, for example, has just received a $100,000 grant from the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation to continue her research into why medulloblastoma, a type of pediatric brain tumor, tends to relapse.