May 12th, 2022

As They Say, “Some Personal News”

Growing up, I had a dog who looked exactly like this — his name was Rufus. Maybe they are related.

This week marks the 14th anniversary of HIV and ID Observations, give or take a few weeks. I started writing this blog* in 2008 — and since then there have been 832 posts, a gazillion comments, and one awful (and ongoing) pandemic. For the opportunity, I sincerely thank Matt O’Rourke, a wonderful and generous editor at NEJM Journal Watch who took a chance on me when I proposed writing it.

(*The word “blog” has a mixed reputation at best, implying to some a venue for shallow navel-gazing and trite philosophizing. Milt Weinstein, one of the smartest people I know, told me flat out, “I don’t read blogs.” But what’s the appropriate alternative name? If we were in print, it would be a “column,” but we’re not in print and never have been. Many now call their regular writing a “newsletter,” but that implies a freestanding and often paid subscription service, which isn’t the case either. Help!)

Since it started all those years ago, this has been a place where I can write about pretty much anything ID-related (and sometimes not so ID-related). Matt moved on and up within NEJM Group, so I’m now guided by three different and skilled editors — Kristin Kelley, Amy Herman, Kelly Young (and previously, Catherine Ryan) — who take turns correcting wayward text and making sure my hyperlinks work. They only veto something if I choose a video that doesn’t meet the site’s family-friendly standards.

I’ve tried to keep the content relevant to clinicians, the tone casual and friendly, and the images and videos fun.

And I must thank you, the people who read this thing, and who make up a friendly, curious, and interesting community. Your feedback — in the comments section, or via emails, or directly — has been hugely gratifying on multiple levels. It’s wonderful to hear that my summary of some ID issue (length of antibiotic therapy, whether to wear white coats, drugs with good oral absorption, all those streptococci, to name a few) is useful, or entertaining, and preferably both! Plus, by having a moderated comments section, we’ve mostly avoided the vitriol that pops up regularly in these sorts of forums and on social media. COVID-19 stresses us all, but it should be no excuse to attack one another.

You might wonder why I’m making these reflections today — who celebrates a 14th anniversary? It’s because this week, I start handling submitted papers to Clinical Infectious Diseases (CID) as their incoming Editor-in-Chief, with the full transition taking place in July. It’s an exciting new challenge, one that certainly will take up a ton of time.

How much time? Just ask the current Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Robert “Chip” Schooley. He navigated this important ID journal through an unbelievable deluge of submissions during a global pandemic. The word “surge” as it relates to COVID-19 does not only apply to case numbers — it also applies to the volume of ID-related research papers, which have absolutely skyrocketed. Over on PubMed, the site lists over 250,000 COVID-19 papers since 2020 — and remember, before this date there were none. That came on top of an already high volume of submissions to this journal for non-COVID research in infectious diseases.

(Speaking of Dr. Schooley, I strongly recommend this profile of him in the San Diego Union-Tribune — it accurately captures his wide-ranging expertise and remarkable humanism.)

When friends and colleagues heard that I was taking this new position, one of the most common questions I received was “Will you still be writing the blog?”

The quick answer is “Yes.” This is an enormously gratifying creative outlet for me, in ways I never could have imagined when I started 14 years ago. Because of my new role, though, posts might be less frequent, or more related to content CID publishes (it is a highly relevant journal for all clinicians, not just ID doctors), or something else entirely. Into the great unknown…

Meanwhile, here’s an aptly named video site for an ID blog (there’s that word again). “ViralHog,” indeed. Certified family-friendly.

But tell me — what’s the dalmatian doing? Is he the referee? Certainly has the right colors.

(Watch in full screen and with sound on for full effect.)

26 Responses to “As They Say, “Some Personal News””

  1. Matthew O'Rourke says:

    Paul,

    Congratulations to you and–even more so–to CID! I certainly can’t think of anyone better positioned to steer the flagship infectious diseases journal!

    One small quibble: If I were still your editor, I’d correct the generous credit you provide me with here. Advocating for your blog (and editing it, to the extent I did) number among the easiest and happiest endeavors of my career.

  2. Christian B Ramers MD, MPH says:

    Paul,
    I was overjoyed when I got to the point in this post when I could conclude that you weren’t ‘retiring’ the blog. Take your time…we’ll anxiously await even infrequent posts. You are a cherished treasure for the ID community and the world.
    Thank you.

  3. Patrick Gibb says:

    I don’t read blogs either. Apart from this one!

  4. Donald M. Pachuta says:

    Dear Paul

    We out here are very grateful for your wisdom, insights, and humor. I always vote you the most entertaining speaker in the Harvard IM course
    don

  5. Monica Mahoney says:

    I think the dalmatian is the “senior author”

  6. Deborah Cotton MD MPH says:

    Congratulations, Paul, on your anniversary and your new adventure as Editor-in-Chief of CID! Thankful that Matt O’Rourke had the vision to approve the launch of HIV and ID Observations so long ago. Very happy you will continue with it into the future!

    Deb

  7. Joel Gallant says:

    As I read the post, I kept waiting for the bad news. I’m so glad it never came! Congratulations, Paul, and keep up the great work. I really miss my more creative outlets!

  8. Jeanne Breen says:

    Exactly what Dr. Ramers wrote…

  9. Jacquelyn Leung says:

    The dalmatian is definitely the referee! Congratulations!

  10. Eric S Sharps, Ph.D. says:

    Congratulations on the promotion and the anniversary. Well, very well, deserved and earned. When referring to a brief technical essay on my website, I used the term “blog” as an expert witness in the Federal bankruptcy court. The opposing attorney sneered and said, “…blog??”. My testimony was rejected, but I changed my website’s “Blog” heading to “Essays”. Keep those essays coming.

    The Dalmatian can’t be a referee. It talks too much and has no whistle.

  11. Loretta S says:

    Whew! From the title and the beginning of the post, I thought you were going to say…. well, you know. I’m glad you didn’t say it, and I’ll take whatever posts you manage to write during your Editor-In-Chiefship (is that a word?). Congratulations on this very well-deserved position! I read you will be stepping down as Editor-In-Chief of OFID. They will miss you there, I am sure. Congrats again!

  12. Tim Lahey says:

    Thank you for the fantastic work so far – a go-to source of information and entertainment whatever it’s called. Glad you’ll be at the CID helm as well.

  13. Carol Gladstone says:

    Paul, even though I’m in no way professionally connected with ID, I love this blog – one of the only reasons I stay on twitter – congratulations on the new assignment, very glad you will continue to write you concise, witty and incredibly informative posts.

  14. Sanford R. Kimmel says:

    Congratulations Paul! I’m not an ID but as a family physician and pediatrician I enjoy your blog. The dachshunds are doing great with their pilates ball. Mine is sitting in the basement (unused).

  15. Mark Shaefer says:

    Paul, congratulations on the anniversary and the new assignment. I am amazed you find the time for all of the great work you do. I was happy to read the blog will continue.

  16. Nelie Hodgman McNeal says:

    The only blog I read regularly, despite my extremely rudimentary knowledge of the subject. Glad you’ll keep writing it.

  17. Allen Pachtman MD says:

    Dr. Sax:

    Having only started to read your blog a year ago- I am delighted that you will be staying on. When my email box is full and I see an email from you I open it immediately! Apropos of ID, I finally developed Covid 48 hours ago (fully vaccinated/boosted) and experienced the worst myalgias of my 68 years. Less than 12 hours after Paxlovid (which I am still on) my myalgias were essentially gone. Thank God for science.

    PS: Loved the dog video……..

    • Loretta S says:

      I do the same thing — I see an email announcing a new post from Paul and I say, “Oh, goody!” and open it right away. And like others here, I do not specialize in infectious diseases!

  18. Anthony Mills says:

    Another great blog, another great video. I look forward to your columns Paul and I’m glad you will continue to educate and amuse. Congrats on the CID position. You will do a great job there no doubt.

  19. Sharon Weissman says:

    Congratulations, Paul! I’m so glad you are not giving up the “blog”. As I was reading today’s post I kept getting a deeper and deeper sinking feeling that you were going to end with a goodbye and adios. So glad for a happy ending… look forward to more post, which are always entertaining and always informative.
    And thank you for supporting my friends and colleagues in SC!

  20. Thomas John says:

    This is the only ‘blog’ I read. I have been reading it for the past 4 years or so, but never realised that it has been around for a decade before that!
    Congrats and wishing you all the best on your new role!

  21. Joanne Fry says:

    I am a latecomer to your posts, and much enjoy reading them. Thanks for continuing 🙂

  22. Nicole Tobin says:

    Agree with the sentiments expressed. It was like getting Wordle on the 6th try and the “Phew” pops up – “Phew”, he’s continuing the blog. Congratulations on CID.

  23. Alice Cole CNM MSN says:

    Congratulations, Dr. Sax, and thank you for continuing this enjoyable and informative column. Blog? I don’t think so. It’s just too undignified a moniker for the content. (I’ll work on it and keep you informed–old English majors never quit.) I’ll continue to look forward to your posts, which I often share with family members in the medical community.

  24. Gerry Creager says:

    Congratulation, Paul, on adding CID to my mandatory (rather than permissive) reading list. I started following these posts shortly after I decided on my own we were heading for a pandemic (roughly 20 JAN 2020, on a flight home from Boston) and have enjoyed the insights literally every time. I’m looking forward to whatever you can provide in the future.

  25. Candace says:

    Your links are the only ones I click on to go read immediately when I get the mail. Have been reading these since they started, a few years after my fellowship ended. You continue to teach many. Thank you for your dedication.

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HIV Information: Author Paul Sax, M.D.

Paul E. Sax, MD

Contributing Editor

NEJM Journal Watch
Infectious Diseases

Biography | Disclosures | Summaries

Learn more about HIV and ID Observations.