Rafael Rangel-Aldao, Editor
“The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”
― Arthur C. Clarke
This will be the last piece of work by the current Editor of CientMed and the website of the Academia Nacional de Medicina of Venezuela. In the coming week, there will be a new editor who will have the responsibility to carry on this wonderful and sensitive job of editing the plethora of knowledge coming from the most prestigious academic corporation in the country. In a relatively short time that became a long journey, which started in September 2018 with a proposal to the Academy, to renovate the old web site and transforming it into a vibrant Portal as a conduit of a dynamic system of information and knowledge management, such a dream became a reality in 2020 with the new Portal. But in 2018, such a project was rendered as fanciful and utterly impossible given the circumstances of our country, then and now. Moreover, at the very beginning of that year, the NAM did launch a committee to modernize the old website but after several months of intense work and three offers of technical services by specialized vendors the effort did not succeed. A stroke of sheer luck, however, changed the course of such previous impossibility when by the middle of the following year, July 2019, the future editor of CientMed met on a social occasion, a philanthropist of web sites that eventually assured all the technological and financial support to the ANM by Fundación Fundasitio, to materialize the construction of the brand new site by the end of that year. By May 1st, 2020, the new website was up and running, and the next step, online, was possible because of the generosity of NAM supporters, and the interest of our active users, which up to now have allowed the dissemination of knowledge on a global scale in 3,009 cities, 137 countries of the five continents, through 122,486 visits by an audience of 75,105 active users that participated in 91,028 sessions as of March 26st, 2021.
The Portal´s Objectives
From the very beginning five objectives and ends of the new website were very clear, in both quantity and scope: 1) To increase the audience of the weekly sessions of the National Academy of Medicine, from about 25-30 at the Palace of the Academies in Caracas, and more recently after the advent of the pandemic on March 13th, of 50 attendees by Zoom, to a wider community of thousands of physicians and scientists distributed worldwide; 2) To launch new publications of open access, world quality and high frequency, daily and weekly, with a focus on research and the dissemination of the frontier of medical sciences; 3) To recognize distinguished Venezuelan researchers here and abroad, whose lines of investigations could contribute to advance the medical education in our country; 4) To create a dynamic registry of current scientific and technological advances toward the control of the pandemic COVID-19, and; 5) To measure the impact of such publications by modern metrics on line such as those of Google Analytics. We have been fortunate enough to meet all these objectives and challenges thanks to the contribution of a host of Venezuelan doctors and scientists of many institutions of higher learning and research, distributed worldwide, who were generous enough to accept invitations to participate in this editorial venture for the benefit of our country. We also acknowledge the debt of gratitude to the Board of Directors of the National Academy of Medicine for their guidance, confidence, and the great level of freedom to accomplish these complex tasks.
New Publications and Achievements
The new publications of the Portal made it possible to launch CientMed (ISSN-e 2665-0479) on August 5th, 2020, the electronic journal of open access, and peer-reviewed articles of the NAM. This journal opened a new door to distinguished Venezuelan researchers and physicians, to publish their results and critical reviews, free of charge, to the benefit of our medical community here and abroad. Each article was duly peer-reviewed and published in a relatively short time (from days to weeks), and was preceded by an introductory editorial with search buttons to the pertaining bibliography, and a concise biography of the main author with special reference to his/her most important scientific contributions. The following is a brief summary with examples of such publications in a wide range of areas of expertise:
- Genomics A critical view of CRISPR applications in Human Genetics. J.L. Ramìrez, Ph.D., CientMed, 1 (1) 01-08, 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.47449/CM.2020.1.1.2
- Translational Medicine From the Clinic to the Laboratory and back: Translational Research to Improve Diagnosis. J. Hoenicka, PhD, CientMed, 1 (17) 01-07 https://doi.org/10.47449/CM.2020.1.1.17
- Intestinal Microbiota Fecal Microbiota Transplantation: Present and Future Perspectives. M. Ganan, Ph.D., CientMed, 01 (09) 01-05, 2020. https://doi.org/10.47449/CM.2020.1.1.9
- Public Health Chagas disease in Venezuela: from neglected to re-emerging infection. A critical review. N. Añez, DVM, Ph.D., CientMed, 1 (2) 01-10, 2020 DOI: https://doi.org/10.47449/CM.2020.1.1.1
- Case Reports Human babesiosis in western-Venezuela. Case Reports. N. Añez, DVM, PhD, CientMed, 1 (27) 01-06, 2020. https://doi.org/10.47449/CM.2020.1.1.25
- Tropical Medicine Pregnancy as a risk factor to disease and the vertical transmission to the fetus, of a host of parasitic ailments. B. Alarcón de Noya, MD, PhD, and R. Ruiz Guevara. MD, MSc, PhD, CientMed, 1 (5) 01-16, 2020. https://doi.org/10.47449/CM.2020.1.1.5
- Systematic Reviews and Metanalysis A brief note on Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis. A strategy to reduce wasted biomedical research. A. Martí-Carvajal, MD, MSc, Ph.D. CientMed, 01 (15) 01-10, 2020. https://doi.org/10.47449/CM.2020.1.1.15 The importance of evidence assessment: Reanalyzing a Meta-analysis on the effect of Prophylactic Amiodarone, on Mortality after Acute Myocardial Infarction and Congestive Heart Failure. A. Martí-Carvajal, MD, MSc, Ph.D. CientMed, 01 (28) 1-14, 2020 https://doi.org/10.47449/CM.2020.1.1.26
- Evidence-based Medicine What is Evidence-based Medicine? A. Martí-Carvajal, MD, MSc, Ph.D. CientMed, 01 (23) 01-07, 2020. https://doi.org/10.47449/CM.2020.1.1.21
- Synopsis COVID-19 30 Synopses that reported an equal number of weeks of the most salients scientific and technological advances against the pandemic, from August 3rd, 2020 to March 3rd, 2021. These Synopses are a historical account of how the scientific world reacted with major leaps to help the control of COVID-19 in 2020-2021.
- The Year in Review: The most newsworthy entries of Covid-19 and scientific articles of the Portal National Academy of Medicine. 23/12/2020. A wealth of knowledge brought by 2020 worldwide, summarized in CientMed, 01 (37) 1-10.
- Annals of the NAM, 2020 This new publication is an instrument of synthesis and rapid access to all scientific publications of our Academy, that is, to new journals such as CientMed, the special section Covid-19, as well as the most recent issues of the centennial Gaceta Médica de Caracas, the Razetti Collection, the Monthly Bulletin, and the many books published with the seal of the National Academy of Medicine. The Annals are, therefore, a compilation in a single click to a Front-end of the whole machinery of information and knowledge management, or Back-end, which took form between May and December 2020.
- Webinars (in Spanish). Sindrome Post Covid-19. Webinars de la Academia Nacional de Medicina, Maritza Durán, MD, 19/11/2020. Teleconsulta en Venezuela en tiempos de Covid-19. Webinars de la Academia Nacional de Medicina, Carlos Hernández Rivero, MD, 03/12/2020
- Interviews of leading experts on COVID-19. Translation and edition of a video-interview to Nicholas Christakis, by Howard Bauchner, editor of JAMA. 11/23/2020. Dr. Anthony Fauci by the Editor of JAMA, Dr. Howard Bauchner. 02/03/2021. Dr. Eric Topol, editor of Medscape, and Stephen Hahn, FDA. 09/10/2020
- Editorials A Review of Annals of the National Academy of Medicine. 12/30/2020. Strategies and Public Policies of Latin America to control Covid-19. 12/16/2020.
- Symposia (In Spanish). Simposio Fronteras de la Ciencia. La COVID-19 ¿Qué hay de nuevo en Venezuela? LXX Convención Anual de AsoVAC. 11/24/2020. Annual Convention of AsoVAC in Venezuela.
- Nobel Prizes 2020 The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2020, Harvey J Alter, Michael Houghton, and Charles M Rice. F. Pujol, CientMed, 01 (19) 01-02, 2020. https://doi.org/10.47449/CM.2020.1.1.19. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020: Awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna. JL Ramírez. CientMed, 1 (20) 01-02, 2020.
- Scientific Advances of Venezuelan Authors (In Spanish). Avances Científicos y Médicos de Venezolanos, como Autores de CientMed. CientMed, 01 (02) 2020
- Letters to the Editor (In Spanish) Emergencia de un nuevo linaje del virus causante de la Covid-19 en el Reino Unido. 23/12/2020. Pujol, PhD, J. Esparza, MD, PhD. CientMed, 1 (36) 01-03, 2020. Derechos Humanos y Equidad en la Vacunación contra la COVID-19. Lilia Cruz, MD. 03/17/2021
Online Metrics of Readership
The following graphs from Google Analytics, as well as the qualitative data following it, gives a glimpse of how the five objectives were intertwined in purpose and addressed together during the year 2020 and the past three months of 2021. This data also highlights some of the most important issues that captured the interest of our active users. The first peak of the graph below corresponded to an inter academic forum on May 15th, regarding a response to the Venezuelan Government related to the official measures taken then to control the pandemic COVID-19; the highest peak of all, dated October 28th, was associated with our editorial to note the lack of scientific evidence regarding the therapeutic effects on COVID-19, of the herbal extract DR10 announced with big fanfare by the president of the country on October 26th. All the other major peaks of daily users throughout 2020 signal a keen interest of our audience in editorials and articles of CientMed, as well as on the scientific advances worldwide to control the pandemic, as referred in the Portal´s COVID-19 and the Gaceta Médica de Caracas. This pattern of interest from active users also revealed the short span of each post on the Portal, corresponding it to about 2-3 days, with the sole exception of those matters related to the lack of supporting evidence of the many announcements regarding the pandemic made by the current administration.
This pattern of the interest of active users was confirmed with data from the current year, 2021, in both the keen interest on scientific and technological leaps against COVID-19 by major laboratories and pharmaceutical companies of advanced countries, as well as the local news regarding the response of the NAM to the official measures against the pandemic. The graph below shows expanded data from Google Analytics accounting for the numbers of daily users, as well as for 7 days, 14 days, and 28 days from January 1st to March 23rd, 2021. Two features of such data are noteworthy, first a big peak of January 26th that corresponded to a scientific editorial of CientMed in response to the presidential announcement of January 25th, regarding the compound Carvativir, which corresponded to Carvacrol or 2-Methyl-5- (1-methyl ethyl) phenol, a well-known derivative of Thymus vulgaris. This editorial was also associated with the second peak of February 1st. The other feature of interest from the graph below is the abrupt decrease in the audience after the monumental rise of active users from 147 on January 24th to the tone of 17,991 on January 26th, to descend to 317 active users on February 6th. To our utmost surprise, however, on Sunday, March 21st, after 5:57 PM, the President of Venezuela posted a Tweet announcing the availability of Carvativir nationwide, with over 400 retweets in 4 hours, and the Portal´s audience went wild from 6 to 11 PM that day (see the second graph below), with over 3,794 views, up from 200 of the day before. Most of the traffic channels used to access the Portal were organic searches, meaning those ones coming from an unpaid search engine. This is indicative of how important CientMed became as a public reference to give a proper answer to the Government’s propaganda.
Nevertheless, the average numbers indicated in boldface at the first graph below, are also indicative of a substantial increase in the audience of the National Academy of Medicine, from its weekly assistance of Zoom sessions of about 50 or 200 academics each month, or the 495 subscriptions on the YouTube channel of the Academy, to the thousands of active users at the 28-day interval shown in the graph below.
The audience to the Portal was indeed worldwide as illustrated in the following graph from Google Analytics, which shows the geographical distribution of 75,105 active users from up to 3,009 cities of 137 countries in the five continents, reaching as far as the most remote cities of Asia and Oceania with names such as Melbourne and Sidney, Auckland, Guiyang, Shangai, Beijing, Xiamen, Singapore, Tel Aviv, as well as remote locations of South Korea and Africa.
The new website of NAM became in less than a year, a real Portal of open access to the activities and vast well of knowledge of this centennial corporation, as well as a system of information, research, and dissemination of medical sciences. All publications of ANM, old and new, are now linked by cross-references and hypertext to facilitate the search of medical advances and experiences by our community here and abroad. During the pandemic, the Portal also became a repository of the many developments and leaps of science and technology to combat SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, a unique feat of Science in modern history. Moreover, with the new system comprising of CientMed, COVID-19, and the Electronic Annals, as well as with the centennial Gaceta Médica de Caracas, and the other publications such as the Razetti Collection and Academica Books, our active users worldwide can now follow with ease the activities of NAM of our country, one of the most cherished objectives of this electronic endeavor. We hope that such an effort will be continued and further developed with the same fervor for years to come.
The debt of gratitude is immense with all the readers and active users of the Portal, as well as with the Board of Directors of NAM, both in the periods of 2018-2020, and 2020-2022, and in particular, to the current President, Dr. Enrique Santiago López-Loyo, and the Treasurer, Dr. Lilia Cruz, whose help and confidence on this project were absolutely essential for its success. The former was also instrumental in launching CientMed from the very beginning of his tenure, and the latter became a major helper and doer to materialize the Portal. The editor is also indebted to Miss Yraiceles Jiménez, whose expertise in informatics became essential to produce CientMed and other publications online of the Portal. Last but not least, it was the Foundation Fundasitio and its executives, Rafael Núñez, Douglimar Rojas, and Carlos Enríquez who believed that this endeavor was possible and gave all their support to make it a reality.