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Changing of the Guard: MSMR’s Second Editor-in-Chief Retires

Image of Changing of the Guard: MSMR’s Second Editor-in-Chief Retires. Changing of the Guard: MSMR’s Second Editor-in-Chief Retires

Dr. Francis (Frank) O’Donnell joined the Medical Surveillance Monthly Report’s editorial team in 2009, becoming its second editor-in-chief (EIC) 2 years later, in November 2011, when he replaced Dr. John Brundage. Dr. O’Donnell had a long and illustrious career in military medicine, retiring from active duty in 2002, following 30 years as an Army physician. Until joining the MSMR team he worked in various positions supporting  military medicine after his retirement from the Army. He remained steady at the helm for 11 of MSMR’s 26 years in publication. Dr. O’Donnell ushered in changes that protected MSMR’s editorial independence and preserved its important function as a repository for comprehensive health surveillance and public health issues relevant to the combat mission of the U.S. military. 

Under Dr. O’Donnell’s editorial leadership, MSMR published articles on a range of infectious disease topics uniquely important to the military, such as malaria and norovirus.1,2 Dr. O’Donnell understood the importance of preserving this information for current and future military public health professionals and policy makers. MSMR’s publications during the COVID-19 pandemic have offered, and will continue to, a historical perspective of the U.S. military experience. Between 2020 and 2022, MSMR published articles about vaccination, immunity, whole genome sequencing, diagnostic coding validity, mental health, physical activity, obesity, recruit health, and other related topics.

He also upheld MSMR’s focus on environmental and occupational health surveillance for issues such as noise-induced hearing loss, burn pits, heat and cold injuries, and snake bites. Dr. O’Donnell invited manuscripts that addressed unproven perceptions of different occupations, like the belief that submariners father more girls than boys, which was not supported by birth statistics.3  

Dr. O’Donnell advocated for original submissions that informed broader public health issues, notably vaccination policies. MSMR’s tick-borne encephalitis surveillance articles were referenced by professional organizations that recommend vaccines.4,5,6 He also aided the archiving of adenovirus vaccination efforts in military boot camps. MSMR reports described the near elimination of adenovirus infections in military boot camps after the reintroduction of an oral vaccine.7    

He safeguarded MSMR’s reputation for validating case definitions using military health and administrative data. During his tenure as EIC, Dr. O’Donnell approved the publication of several articles that assessed the predictive value of data elements like reportable medical events and questions on military health surveillance assessments, many of which remain a basis for routine health surveillance reports.8,9 He also led the annual review of new diagnostic codes for inclusion in the MSMR annual issue on disease burden and health care utilization, which continues to be the most read and referenced issue each year.10,11 This annual issue defines military force health protection and research priorities. It also defines priorities for the Military Health System and targets for health promotion or other interventions.   

MSMR bids farewell to Dr. O’Donnell as we usher in a change in leadership, operating practices, and governance. MSMR’s mission will not change: MSMR will continue to exist as a resource for public health surveillance with a broad scope of topics that generate hypotheses and spur future investigations or updates in policy. MSMR’s editorial and publication team congratulates Dr. Francis O’Donnell on 11 influential years as Editor-in-Chief of the journal, and wishes him the very best in his retirement after 50 years of steadfast service to the Department of Defense.

Author Affiliation

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division, Silver Spring, MD

References

  1. Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. Update: malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021. MSMR. 2022;29(3):2-7.
  2. Clark LL. Surveillance snapshot: norovirus outbreaks in military forces, 2015-2019. MSMR. 2020;27(8):8.
  3. Hall C, Bukowinski AT, Kramer KE, Conlin AMS. Offspring sex ratio of male active duty U.S. Navy submariners, 2001-2015. MSMR. 2019;26(6):2-7.
  4. Mancuso JD, Bazaco S, Stahlman S, Clausen SS, Cost AA. Tick-borne encephalitis surveillance in U.S. military service members and beneficiaries, 2006-2018. MSMR. 2019;26(11):4-10.
  5. Stahlman S. Surveillance snapshot: tick-borne encephalitis in Military Health System beneficiaries, 2012-2021. MSMR. 2022;29(5):23.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tick-borne encephalitis. Updated February 23, 2022. Accessed February 13, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/tick-borne-encephalitis/links-references/index.html 
  7. Hoke CH Jr, Hawksworth A, Snyder CE Jr. Initial assessment of impact of adenovirus type 4 and type 7 vaccine on febrile respiratory illness and virus transmission in military basic trainees, March 2012. MSMR. 2012;19(3):2-4.   
  8. Clausen S, Stahlman S, Cost A. Early use of ICD-10-CM code "U07.1, COVID-19" to identify 2019 novel coronavirus cases in Military Health System administrative data. MSMR. 2020;27(5):55-59. 
  9. Mancuso JD, Seliga N, Legg M, Stahlman SL. Evaluation of the MSMR surveillance case definition for incident cases of hepatitis C. MSMR. 2022;29(9):10-14.   
  10. Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to various illnesses and injuries, non-service member beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2021. MSMR. 2022;29(6):40-50.   
  11. Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. Ambulatory visits, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2021. MSMR. 2022;29(6):17-24.

 

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