Deborah Sweet Discusses the Rapid Advance of Cell Stem Cell

Journal Interview, July 2011

Cell Stem Cell

According to a recent analysis of Essential Science IndicatorsSM from Clarivate Analytics, the journal Cell Stem Cell had the highest percent increase in citations among journals in the field of Clinical Medicine. This is the fourth time the journal has been named a Rising Star* in this field.

Cell Stem Cell's record in the database includes 351 papers cited a total of 10,228 times between its founding in 2007 and February 28, 2011. Part of the Cell Press family of journals, it is also affiliated with the International Society for Stem Cell Research. talks with Editor Dr. Deborah J. Sweet about the journal's citation achievements and its place in the rapidly growing field of stem cell science.

SW: Did you expect Cell Stem Cell to become highly cited, or is this surprising to you?

Whenever we launch a new journal, we hope that it will be embraced by the community that it aims to serve and become a focal point for the best research in the area. Cell Stem Cell was no exception, and we were very excited to see it become established so rapidly as a leading publication venue for the stem cell field. We work hard to ensure that we publish strong articles across a broad range of basic and translational stem cell research, and we are obviously happy to see those efforts reflected in the citation record.

SW: How would you account for the high citation rate of Cell Stem Cell?

I think one of the major contributing factors has to be the sheer pace and excitement of stem cell research, in terms of both basic science and the potential for regenerative medicine. The size and scope of the field has increased substantially even over Cell Stem Cell’s short lifespan, and thus so has interest in work being published in this area. At a more specific level, we have also published leading studies on a number of different aspects of stem cell research, and their citation rate underlines their interest and significance for the community.

SW: Would you give us a brief history of the journal?

"...Cell Stem Cell was the right journal at the right time."

We launched Cell Stem Cell as the 12th primary research journal in the Cell Press family in June 2007. Cell Stem Cell is unique among Cell Press journals in that it is affiliated with a scientific society—the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), the leading society in the stem cell field. Cell Stem Cell is run by an independent team of in-house editors, but also provides a venue for distributing ISSCR communications and information to the stem cell community.

Ethical and policy issues are particularly important in the stem cell field, especially as it moves towards clinical translation, so from the outset we decided that Cell Stem Cell would have a strong review section and a focus on discussion of stem cell-related topics. As a result, each monthly issue contains a broad range of both primary research papers and review/discussion articles.

SW: What historical factors have contributed to the success of Cell Stem Cell?

I think that, to large extent, Cell Stem Cell was the right journal at the right time. Cell Press and the ISSCR both recognized that, as the stem cell field grew, the community developed a need for a dedicated high-quality journal, and launched Cell Stem Cell to meet that need. Stem cell research moves and changes quickly, and to be successful a journal needs to be responsive and agile in following community trends.

Based on the feedback we have received from many members of the community, Cell Stem Cell has established a reputation for timely and thoughtful editorial consideration and review processes, which authors value. I would like to think that our focus on providing that type of editorial service has also contributed to the journal’s success.

SW: Have there been specific developments in the fields served by Cell Stem Cell that may have contributed?

The stem cell field has grown rapidly on many fronts, all of which have contributed to the overall sense of excitement surrounding it. In recent years, reprogramming of somatic cells to induced pluripotent stem cells is one area that has garnered strong interest within the research community and beyond because of the potential it holds for drug development, analysis of disease, and regenerative medicine. It remains to be seen, however, whether this type of approach, as opposed to others that, for example, focus more on reactivating endogenous stem cells, will ultimately prove the most effective in a clinical setting.

SW: What, in your view, is this journal’s main significance or contribution in the field of Clinical Medicine?

"Much of the excitement that surrounds the stem cell field relates to the potential for clinical translation."

Much of the excitement that surrounds the stem cell field relates to the potential for clinical translation. There are of course already some well-known examples of successful clinical applications of stem cells—such as bone marrow transplants—but for most potential therapies, we are still very much in the development phase.

I think Cell Stem Cell has played two important roles in this regard: one is to highlight some of the most significant research advances in the field, and the other is to provide a forum for rigorous discussion of the many different policy and ethical issues that the stem cell field faces as it moves towards clinical translation. In conjunction with the ISSCR, we have also made efforts to publicize concerns about unproven stem cell treatments and the potential for patient exploitation.

SW: How do you see your field(s) evolving in the next few years?

The rapid pace of growth doesn’t seem to me to show any signs of stopping, despite the various regulatory and funding hurdles that governments around the world are still debating. So, I see the stem cell field continuing to expand and develop.

There is also a strong emphasis on removing barriers, both practical and regulatory, between basic research and clinical translation, and given the effort and will being exerted on many different fronts, it is hard to imagine that we will not see improvements in that arena as well. I look forward to the day when early trials, such as the one currently being conducted by Geron, have become the norm and are no longer newsworthy events.

SW: What role do you see for your journal?

We will continue to publish high-quality research across the breadth of the stem cell field. Many of the papers will cover advances in basic scientific understanding, but, particularly with our new Clinical Progress article format, we will also provide a venue for significant advances in the translational arena. We will also continue to follow the various issues that arise around translation of stem cell research, including those relating to policy, ethics, funding, regulatory approval, and commercial viability, to help stem cell researchers navigate a path towards practical application of their research.End

Cell Stem Cell
Deborah J. Sweet, Ph.D., Editor
Cell Press, publishers


Maherali N, et al., "Directly reprogrammed fibroblasts show global epigenetic remodeling and widespread tissue contribution," Cell Stem Cell 1(1): 55-70, July 2007 with 414 cites. Source: Essential Science Indicators from Clarivate Analytics.


  • *In 2010, Cell Stem Cell was named the Rising Star journal in Clinical Medicine in May,  July, September, and again in May of 2011.
  • The cover illustrates the themes of both communication between different stakeholders in regenerative medicine and repair processes mediated by stem cells. Cover design by Yvonne Blanco.



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