Dong-Yan Jin is currently Clara and Lawrence Fok Professor in Precision Medicine in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Hong Kong. Using a combination of genetic and biochemical approaches, his work focuses on understanding the molecular basis of viral disease and cancer. In particular, he is interested in the innate antiviral response and the cellular machinery used to respond to and sense viral nucleic acids. He graduated from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou with a bachleor’s degree and gained his PhD at the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine in Beijing. He joined the University of Hong Kong in 1999 after a postdoctoral position at the National Institutes of Health in the US. Dong-Yan joined the PLOS ONE Editorial Board as an Academic Editor at the launch of the journal in 2006.
How did you first become interested in molecular virology and cancer?
I chose to come to Beijing in 1986 to pursue my PhD studies with Prof. Yun-De Hou, a pioneering molecular virologist in China. With his recommendation, I joined Dr. Kuan-Teh Jeang’s lab at NIAID, NIH in Bethesda, Maryland for postdoctoral training in 1994. Their commitment and passion to science had a great influence on me. I continued and extended the research work started in Dr. Jeang’s lab in the area of viral oncogenesis when I came to Hong Kong in 1999. In more recent years I have also reactivated and further developed an interest in the study of innate antiviral response.
What challenges and developments can we expect to see for this field in the next few years?
In the coming years more prophylactic vaccines will be developed to prevent cancers associated with the infection of oncogenic viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus. New and rationally designed therapeutic agents will be developed and used in combination with existing drugs to provide better treatment options for cancer and other viral diseases. Many first-of-its-kind products such as immune checkpoint-blocking antibodies, virotherapy, CAR-T cell therapy, antisense oligonucleotides, an aptamer and a dendritic cell-based vaccine have entered the clinic in recent years after decades of research and development. This will continue. Molecular therapeutics and precision medicine are coming of age. Interdisciplinary research that cuts across multiple edges such as virology, immunology and molecular cell biology will bring about new ideas and thoughts in prevention and intervention of cancer and other viral diseases.
You joined PLOS ONE’s editorial board when the journal was launched 10 years ago. What attracted you to PLOS ONE in the first place?
I liked the idea and felt that it would be successful if we worked together to build it.
The journal has grown beyond expectations. Why do you think a journal like PLOS ONE – a multidisciplinary and rigor-focused journal- is relevant to scientists in general and within your field in particular?
The journal has grown but there is also fierce competition. If we cannot keep the standard, PLOS ONE will go into history. We need to focus on rigor or technical quality of papers. It is not the dumping ground for anything. We have to work harder to win back the trust of scientists. We should not only find out our weaknesses and problems, but also to improve and move to the next stage.
How do you see the future of publishing? Are there any initiatives that you find particularly exciting or promising?
What we started at PLOS ONE is exciting and promising. It was truly paradigm-shifting and ground-breaking. To some extent, it represents the future direction for publishing. It is still too early to say exactly how future scientific publishing will be conducted. However, it will be electronic and open access. Other issues that have been discussed and explored include peer review with increased transparency and improved reviewer searching mechanism, closer collaboration between professional and academic editors, as well as better communication between reviewers and authors facilitated by the editor.