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JEM's 125th Anniversary:

Over a Century of Novel Conceptual Insights

image of JEM's 125th logo

Since its inception in 1896, Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM) has been a leader in publishing outstanding and enduring studies in medical biology and has greatly contributed to the fields of immunology, cancer biology, vascular biology, microbial pathogenesis, neuroscience, and stem cell biology. It was conceived 125 years ago with the aim of presenting different areas of medical investigation together so that readers could identify common threads in their methods, problems, and purposes. And today, as other publishers establish topic-specific journals, JEM remains faithful to its broad scope and continues to offer a distinguished venue for publication of studies that integrate disciplines within the field of disease pathogenesis.

We are thrilled to celebrate this incredible milestone with anniversary content throughout the year, some of which will be published in our regular issues, and all of which will be curated here. Readers will learn from award-winning JEM authors whose contributions have dramatically changed the immunology field or given rise to new areas of research, see how methods and techniques have evolved since the journal's founding, and read personal stories from researchers who built their careers on an initial, groundbreaking JEM study. As we look back at the scientific achievements of the past 125 years, we will also be announcing new initiatives that contribute to the future of the fields covered in JEM.

We are extremely grateful to our editors and reviewers, who have contributed to the strength of JEM's purpose, to our authors for submitting their best research to JEM, and to you, our readers, for your continuous interest in the journal. We hope you will join us during this exceptional year of celebrations and help us commemorate JEM's 125th anniversary. Throughout the year, we encourage your feedback with the hashtag #JEM125 or email us at Sign up for special collections and announcements here.

Animation by Yuko Tonohira

JEM 125th Anniversary Workshop

Happy birthday, JEM! We are pleased to present guest lectures on impactful studies published in JEM. Featured speakers include:

Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, on "Neuroinvasion of SARS-CoV-2 in human and mouse brain," by Eric Song…Kaya Bilguvar and Iwasaki

Joseph Sun, PhD, on "Positive selection of CD8+ T cells induced by major histocompatibility complex binding peptides in fetal thymic organ culture," by Kristin Hogquist, Marc Gavin, and Michael Bevan

Gwen Randolph, PhD, on "Inflammatory Chemokine Transport and Presentation in HEV: A Remote Control Mechanism for Monocyte Recruitment to Lymph Nodes in Inflamed Tissues," by Roger Palframan…Ulrich H. von Andrian

Stephanie Eisenbarth, MD, PhD joined by Sam Olyha, MD, PhD, and Gowthaman Uthaman, PhD, on "Identification of a Novel Cell Type in Peripheral Lymphoid Organs of Mice: I. Morphology, Quantitation, Tissue Distribution," by Ralph Steinman and Zanvil A. Cohn

Ali Ellebedy, PhD, on "The Carriage of Immunological Memory by Small Lymphocytes in the Rat," by James Gowans and Jonathan Uhr


Milestones in Experimental Medicine

In a brief timeline spanning the 1790s to present day, JEM editors chart the course of significant scientific discoveries, events, and the journal's contributions along the way. JEM studies and special anniversary content are highlighted among the content—just check for the "125 years" mark. Visit the Milestones in Experimental Medicine timeline here.


Continuing Medical Education

In a special partnership befitting the journal's service to the clinical community for over 125 years, JEM is now collaborating with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to bring our readers opportunities to engage in Continuing Medical Education (CME). Those who participate in CME activities with JEM will be tested on their comprehension of the key concepts in the selected articles, with the objective of enriching their clinical practice and patient care through better understanding of scientific advances and new techniques in the fields covered by thejournal. JEM offers these activities to all at no charge. Clinicians can begin the activities by visiting the JEM Course Overview page at the MSK CME website. You do not need to be an MSK Employee to create an account.



JEM Historical Testimonials

In this series, experts discuss significant discoveries that have revolutionized our understanding of immunology and changed the course of modern science. They outline the impact that these discoveries have had, highlighting some of the pivotal findings published in JEM, and how they went on to shape modern medicine.

The discovery of dendritic cells
Carol L. Moberg
An excerpt from Ralph Steinman's Harvey Lecture describing the discovery of dendritic cells.

Taking regulatory T cells into medicine
Shimon Sakaguchi
Shimon Sakaguchi recounts the work that lead to the identification of regulatory T cells.

Lumpers and splitters: Birth of Th17 cells
Brigitta Stockinger
Brigitta Stockinger recounts the work which resulted in the discovery of Th17 cells.

No social distancing in the immune system
Jacques F. Miller
Jacques Miller reflects on the identification of B cells and T cells.

The life of B cells according to JEM
Ralf Küppers
Küppers outlines our understanding of the generation and function of B cells.

Revisiting JEM's Legacy

In this series, JEM authors revisit seven landmark JEM articles that have had a lasting impact on the fields of immunology, cancer biology, microbial pathogenesis and stem cell biology. They present a historical perspective of these discoveries, discussing the evolution of the field since the original publication of the findings in JEM. These articles provide an updated overview of these questions and connect the classic studies to the current state of the art. 

From antibody specificity to T cell recognition
Hye-Jung Kim and Harvey Cantor
Kim and Cantor discuss the seminal work by Landsteiner and colleagues on human blood groups and reflect on how those findings have influenced our current understanding of immune recognition, clonal selection, and self-tolerance.

The road from Rous sarcoma virus to precision medicine
Olivier Elemento
A discussion of Peyton Rous' discovery in 1911 lead to the identification of virus-inducing tumors, oncogenes discovery, and the development modern tumor biology.

Enabling out-of-body experiences for living organs
Donald E. Ingber
Alexis Carrel's study on the culture of whole organs inspired a series of scientific, engineering, and medical breakthroughs.

From the discovery of DNA to current tools for DNA editing
Pascal Maguin and Luciano A. Marraffini
Maguin and Marraffini discuss the discovery of DNA as carrier of genetic information by Avery and colleagues in 1944, from the development of the field of molecular biology to the discovery of CRISPR-Cas for gene editing.

Four keys to unlock IgG
Falk Nimmerjahn and Jeffrey V. Ravetch
The identification of discrete subclasses within the immunoglobulin G (IgG) isotype in 1964 provided the framework for our current understanding of differential IgG subclass activity in protective and self-reactive immune responses.

Dendritic cells: The first step
Gwendalyn J. Randolph
The story of Ralph Steinman's seminal work on dendritic cells began in 1973.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors
Guido Kroemer and Laurence Zitvogel
Three seminal papers published in JEM between 1995 and 2000 laid the grounds of the Nobel prize-winning discovery of immune checkpoint inhibitors for the treatment of cancer.

JEM Career Launchpad

For many researchers, the anniversary of JEM takes on personal significance. In this feature, we hear from scientists who share the impact that publishing in JEM had in establishing and supporting their careers. We are firmly committed to serving the scientific community and providing a launchpad to young scientists. We thank the following individuals for their stories:

Anna Bigas, "JEM, Long-Lasting Support to Developmental Hematopoiesis"
Ivan Zanoni, "JEM at the Forefront of Interferon Biology"
Matthew R. Hepworth, "JEM, Seminal Contributions to Mucosal Immunology"
Stephanie C. Eisenbarth, "JEM Headway Vision of Type 2 Immunity"
Seth Masters, "JEM, Found in Translation"
Jonathan Kipnis, "JEM Fostering Neuroimmunology Research"
Carola G. Vinuesa, "JEM Opened the Doors to a Career in Research"
Kim Good-Jacobson, "JEM, Openness to Diverse Ideas and Approaches"
Stuart Tangye, "JEM, A Key Venue for Human Immunology Studies"
Sayuri Yamazaki, "JEM Propelled My Career as Independent Investigator"
Claire Hivroz, "JEM, the Immunology Legacy"
Elia Tait Wojno, "JEM Supports Female, Underrepresented and Junior Investigators"
Ziv Shulman, "JEM, a unique place to launch a career in immunology"
Marco Colonna, "JEM, Supporting Novel Discoveries For 125 Years"

William H. Welch (ca. 1915) and Simon Flexner (ca. 1930). Welch photo by Bachrach, courtesy of Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Flexner photo courtesy of the Rockefeller Archive Center.

Origin of JEM

"The need of an American journal devoted especially to the publication of original contributions to the medical sciences has been keenly felt for some time."—William H. Welch

JEM was founded in 1896 at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine by William Welch, the school's founder and also the first president of the Board of Scientific Directors of The Rockefeller Institute in New York. From its inception, Welch edited the journal by himself—even editing manuscripts while attending baseball games—and he eventually found that it placed too heavy a burden on his time. By March 1902, the editorial burden became too great for Welch, who stopped publishing papers and began stockpiling manuscripts and unanswered correspondence in his office, explaining the conspicuous absence of published papers from 1902 to 1904.

In October 1902, Welch appealed to the board of The Rockefeller Institute to take over the journal. The transfer of ownership and publication responsibilities required the physical transfer of manuscripts from Welch's office, a duty that fell to the director of The Rockefeller Institute, Simon Flexner, who carried the abandoned manuscripts from Baltimore to New York in a suitcase.

The first issue of JEM published by The Rockefeller Institute appeared in February 1905, with Flexner serving as editor, and the journal has been published regularly since then. Although the journal was adopted by The Rockefeller Institute as a venue for publication of the Institute's own research, it also accepted submissions from outside. Even in the early years, more than half of the papers published in the journal came from external labs. Read "The Journal of Experimental Medicine: Introduction," the journal's first editorial written by William H. Welch.

"JEM: The Beginnings" Exhibit at The Rockefeller University

We are pleased to share a new exhibit presented by the Rita and Frits Markus Library at The Rockefeller University, "JEM: The Beginnings," which highlights the lives and careers of Welch and Flexner. The exhibit contains early artifacts and photos of the founders, as well as their correspondence and musings, including an excerpt from Flexner: "(JEM) was itself a radical experiment; It was generally believed that America did not produce enough scientific work to fill its pages…(but) the Journal succeeded beyond all expectations, since American laboratories proved able to produce far more articles worthy of its pages than anyone foreseen." We thank Olga Nilova, MLS, Special Collections and Operations Librarian at the Markus Library, for curating the exhibit. "JEM: The Beginnings," is presented online as a slideshow and viewable at the Markus Library.

Allergic immune responses in lungs of mice, as reported in Chen et al.

Five Most Highly Cited Articles in JEM

Efficient presentation of soluble antigen by cultured human dendritic cells is maintained by granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor plus interleukin 4 and downregulated by tumor necrosis factor alpha
F Sallusto, A Lanzavecchia
J Exp Med (1994) 179 (4): 1109–1118.
Citations as of December 2020: 4,242

Plaque formation and isolation of pure lines with poliomyelitis viruses
R. Dulbecco, Marguerite Vogt
J Exp Med (1954) 99 (2): 167–182.
Citations as of December 2020: 4,221

A study of fixation for electron microscopy
G. E. Palade
J Exp Med (1952) 95 (3): 285–298.
Citations as of December 2020: 3,458

Surface markers on human T and B lymphocytes: I. A large population of lymphocytes forming nonimmune rosettes with sheep red blood cells
M. Jondal, G. Holm, H. Wigzell
J Exp Med (1972) 136 (2): 207–215.
Citations as of December 2020: 3,305

Conversion of Peripheral CD4+CD25− Naive T Cells to CD4+CD25+ Regulatory T Cells by TGF-β Induction of Transcription Factor Foxp3
WanJun Chen, Wenwen Jin, Neil Hardegen, Ke-jian Lei, Li Li, Nancy Marinos, George McGrady, Sharon M. Wahl
J Exp Med (2003) 198 (12): 1875–1886.
Citations as of December 2020: 3,245

Citation data gathered from Web of Science Core Collection, Clarivate.

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