The bimonthly publication is set to be published online and in print with open access facilities. It will also be broad-based and peer-reviewed and according to its press release, “dedicated to the dissemination of critical research on the myriad applications and underlying technology of CRISPR.”
It hopes that the editorials, analyses, debates and commentary surrounding the technology could drive more ground-breaking research to transform human lives – such as the ability to treat cancer and other genetic diseases or the development of new materials and biofuels.
The journal will also examine the potential to abuse the power of the technology, malevolently or otherwise including eugenics and bioterrorism.
But is it a necessary new piece of literature?“The extraordinary excitement and profound implications of CRISPR research exceed anything I've seen in the past 30 years of research and scientific publishing,” said Dr Kevin Davies, Executive Vice President of Strategic Development for the journal.
“I firmly believe that The CRISPR Journal, devoted to capturing critical advances in CRISPR research and genome editing applications, will serve a huge unmet need across the scientific community," he clarified.
Whilst it cannot be disputed that CRISPR has become the scientific community’s latest obsession, generating billions in research, a patent legal battle and even a primetime television programme, is it necessary to add another journal to the hundreds already in existence?
“When any publisher decides to launch a new journal, I think it’s a very legitimate question to say why, given the thousands upon thousands of journals, even just in the life sciences, that already exist,” Davies said.
“But if ever a field could be said to have captured as much excitement and carry as many implications as the revolutions brought about by the development of CRISPR technology — that to me serves as an ample rationale for launching a journal,” he explains.
Aside from research, the publication also plans to cover content on CRISPR’s gene-editing predecessors such as zinc fingers and TALENS and any new technology that may develop in the future. Reading through the journal according to Davies, will be “kind of like browsing through a copy of Nature, just without the physics or the fossils.”
Success the journal is difficult, but not impossibleScience journals serve a deeper purpose – to inform and educate professionals currently working in the field. “The CRISPR Journal will be the predominant source for all professionals in its field – from academic research through industrial applications," said Mary Ann Liebert, president and CEO of the company.
"We have assembled a highly experienced team for this major initiative which is expandable well beyond a traditional journal,” she said. Indeed, the journal assembled a global editorial board of 42 members including scientists and legal practitioners and is on the look for an editor in chief.
Davies adds, "Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. has earned a strong reputation for identifying important medical and scientific trends and serving those communities, with authoritative journals."
Despite his optimism, Davies knows it is hard to get it off the ground. The journal will face an uphill battle convincing the Feng Zhangs and Jennifer Doudnas of the world to publish their work in the new journal instead of “the major glamour journals.”
“I’m under no illusions that it’s not going to be very difficult to wrestle away many of the papers that are earmarked for that tier of journal, but we will certainly try,” he said.
Still, if there is anyone who can do it, it is Davies. Backed by a 27-year career in publishing, he has worked at both Nature and Cell and helped in the launch of Nature Genetics – which 25 years ago, was a large gamble.
“If we can even claim a little bit of that success, I think we’ll be really happy,” Davies said. MIMS
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