Hopkins official to run AMA journal

Announcement set today on selection of academic pediatrician

October 08, 1999|By Jonathan Bor | Jonathan Bor,SUN STAFF

The American Medical Association is expected today to name Dr. Catherine D. DeAngelis, vice dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, as editor of its prestigious medical journal, according to sources knowledgeable about the appointment.

DeAngelis, a pediatrician who is known as a staunch advocate for women in medicine, declined to comment last night on reports of her appointment to the top post at the Journal of the American Medical Association. The AMA is planning to make an announcement at an afternoon news conference in New York.

"I'm really not at liberty to speak about anything until then," said DeAngelis, 59, the vice dean for academic affairs and faculty.

The appointment comes at a time of great ferment at the Chicago-based journal. In January, the AMA leadership fired Dr. George Lundberg, the longtime editor, after the magazine published a study about the sexual attitudes of college students.

The AMA's leaders had said the article, appearing about the time of President Clinton's impeachment trial, did not measure up to the journal's scientific standards and wrongly injected the journal into a political matter. The dismissal sparked a controversy over the journal's editorial independence.

With a circulation of 332,000 readers, JAMA is regarded as one of the "big four" medical journals, along with the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet and the British Medical Journal.

JAMA publishes research about drug effects and side effects, as well as commentaries on health care policy. This week's edition contains articles about preventing strokes with fruits and vegetables, the high rates of smoking in China and the use of anti-depressants in pregnant women.

DeAngelis is the editor of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, an AMA publication, as well as a member of -JAMA's editorial board. In 1988, the American Academy of Pediatrics honored her with its Joseph W. St. Geme award, given to the nation's outstanding academic pediatricians.

A Hopkins spokeswoman also declined to comment, but reports of the appointment had circulated throughout the faculty.

"I think it's an incredibly good choice," said Dr. George Dover, chairman of pediatrics. "First of all, she's an incredibly critical thinker, and she's brutally honest. She will not bend just to please people, a very important role at JAMA."

As vice dean, DeAngelis wrote a new curriculum that is aimed at making students more familiar with the practice of medicine in the outpatient setting. She has also developed continuing education courses for practicing physicians, including one that awards a master's degree in the business of medicine.

As an academic pediatrician, she championed the role of the general pediatrician -- someone who is expected to recognize and treat a wide variety of childhood ailments.

"That's quite an accomplishment in the face of the more traditional thinking, where it's the subspecialty where you see the accomplishments in medicine," Dover said. "She's been quite a pioneer in that endeavor."

Dover said DeAngelis also fought for equal treatment of women in academic medicine, writing articles that showed women at Hopkins and elsewhere were not paid as well or promoted as often as men with similar qualifications. The articles were published in outside journals, he said, and led to reforms at Hopkins.

JAMA has been run by interim editors since Lundberg's firing. The journal recently created a board to buffer the editor from the organization's management.

Lundberg has become editor of Medscape, an Internet site that publishes original research along with news and links to other sources of medical information.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 10/08/99

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