Growth Development and Ageing: Purposes and Policies

GROWTH, DEVELOPMENT AND AGING. Studies of aging in mammals are becoming advanced enough to search for relationships between patterns of aging, and patterns of growth and development. To what degree are these all part of the same process, so that patterns of development predict subsequent patterns of growth and aging?
Even more important, as modern techniques of molecular genetics are beginning to define the chemical controls of developmental processes, the same techniques will be applied in studying growth and aging. Will genes that affect development, growth and aging show some consistent relationships? Will these lead to treatments for deleterious aging processes? Gene therapies will test mechanisms of aging, initially in transgenic mice, with an obvious progression to precursor cells of the bone marrow and potential clinical use. Will reducing free radical concentrations retard aging rates?

To answer these sorts of questions, biologists need to define both genetic and environmental effects on growth, development and aging. To study aging, its symptoms must be understood, so we can recognize treatments that retard aging rates. This requires methods of measuring aging changes in different biological systems and evaluating effects of treatments to retard aging. Using these methods, we can use the traditional medical model and develop treatments that benefit the symptoms, even without a full understanding of the causes of all aging processes. Such treatments not only will have practical importance, but will help deepen theoretical understandings. This is an important time to be a biomedical worker in these fields.

Areas of interest. The additions of new interest areas should not detract from the old, but should supplement our current strengths. For example, our journal is very strong in the analysis of growth processes by mathematical models. In the future this should grow in importance, as studies with mathematical models are more closely combined with studies of related biological processes. An obvious area is in longevity curves. Are these related to growth curves for particular populations? Less obvious is the combination of mathematical and molecular studies. I predict that such combinations will complete the twentieth century revolution in biology, as it becomes a more exact and predictable science, and we gain control over our health.

As stated on our cover page, Growth, Development & Aging is a journal for studies of growth, development and aging in all living organisms, using a full spectrum of approaches. We emphasize basic biology, keeping an open mind towards unorthodox ideas, but using a rigorous review process.

Criteria for acceptance or rejection of manuscripts. While a broad range of subjects will be covered, the primary criteria of interest is potential relevance to basic biology, especially mammalian biology. Collections of data that are not clearly related to biological issues will not be published unless they are of unusual importance. For example, a manuscript describing growth of meat animals will be returned to the authors, unless it is related to basic biological issues. Unusual animal models, including meat animals, are entirely acceptable, as long as there is a good reason to use the model. Unique advantages of the model must be clearly stated as well as its relationship to more conventional models.

Our journal covers a wide range of subject areas, so the expert, volunteer reviewers in each area are essential to the quality of the science published. If there are some useful data sets or ideas in a manuscript with problems that make it unacceptable, the editor and reviewers will work with the author trying to solve the problems. However, correct English usage, a real problem with an international journal, is entirely the responsibility of the authors. If there is any possibility of problems in this area, before being submitted, a manuscript should be carefully read for correct English by a native English speaker who is also expert in the area being discussed.

Not rejecting Mendel. It is common knowledge that Mendel’s laws were not published in a major journal for twenty years because his initial editor failed to recognize their importance. Growth, Development & Aging will not reject a manuscript due to unorthodox ideas, and authors should point this out to the editor if they feel that their ideas may have been discounted for this reason. However, to avoid wasting the reader’s time, Growth, Development & Aging will use expert peer reviewers, and require good research design, correct data analysis and clear statements of why each study is important.

A new category of “Brief Editorials” has been developed. Ideas and findings that are too preliminary for publication as a conventional article, but too complex and important to be letters to the editor, will be published without review if they seem interesting, and fit in one page or less. This mechanism should stimulate interesting exchanges of ideas that are not yet fully developed, but may have value. We also will consider publishing descriptions of new techniques as brief articles (one to four pages) clearly describing the technique and outlining how it may be used.

Finally, review articles that are definitive in their subject area, or that add important new ideas, are invited. While scientific peer reviewers will go over these, important disagreements will be handled by an open review process, in which the reviewers are identified, and their significant criticisms are published at the end of the review article, along with the author’s reaction.

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