The aim of BPEX is not just to cover all three disciplines, but to focus on bridging the gaps between individual areas, explained Founding Editor Robert Jeraj from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Medical physics, biophysics and biomedical engineering have developed independently, but we are now realising that they have a lot of things in common," he said. "We are trying to bring these disciplines closer together, particularly the intersections between them."

One area that spans medical physics, biophysics and biomedical engineering, for instance, is imaging. Within biophysics, this mostly concerns optical imaging and microscopy, while imaging in medical physics involves clinical techniques, and biomedical engineering helps develop technologies for both parts of the spectrum. Another example is modelling, again ranging from the cellular to the clinical level. The scope of the new journal is intended to be broad and inclusive, covering any application of physics and/or engineering in medicine and/or biology. "We're aiming to provide a common ground for discussion between the disciplines," said Jeraj.

As well as the Founding Editor, BPEX will have three Deputy Editors, one from each discipline (medical physics, biophysics and biomedical engineering). Jeraj noted that while each Deputy Editor is a highly regarded expert in their own field, they were also selected as researchers able to see beyond these individual fields. "In order to be effective in bridging between disciplines, we also have to be very good within each discipline," explained Jeraj. "That's why we have the team rather than just a single editor."

Global ambitions

One important goal of the new journal is to publish research with a broad geographical coverage. To drive this, the Editorial Board was created with members from all across the globe. "Researchers will feel more comfortable submitting to a journal where they can see connections with people they might know, or from their country," Jeraj explained. "The Editorial Board is also tasked with identifying promising groups and researchers within their regions, and encouraging them to come together and to feel at home with BPEX."

Jeraj noted that in many countries around the world, the three disciplines that compose BPEX are less differentiated than in the USA or Europe. BPEX's interdisciplinary model will particularly suit authors in such countries, for example, working in a combined medical physics/biophysics department.

He also highlighted the situation faced by researchers in lower-income countries, who may not have access to the latest state-of-the-art technologies. "Very often, people who don't have financial resources compensate by being more innovative," he said. "The research may not be really cutting-edge, but the ideas may actually be more innovative than those that just come from using advanced technology."

"There are smart people everywhere around the world," he added. "This is a great way to bring them together and combine the most brilliant ideas in these disciplines from everywhere. I've already seen extremely high enthusiasm from groups around the world. They feel that the journal answers their needs by focusing on scientific rigour and innovation, not just on research using expensive equipment."

Express performance

One other key selling point of BPEX lies in the "Express" in its title – which promises fast but rigorous peer review, with first decisions in less than 28 days on average. Jeraj notes that reviewers are given a relatively short deadline to respond.

BPEX also offers the option for transfer from IOP Publishing's other journals, in cases where the paper doesn't quite fit into a journal's scope or is not deemed as interesting for that particular discipline. "If the paper is appropriate for BPEX, if it fits the scope and the criteria, and the authors agree to the transfer, then it goes on fast track," Jeraj explained. "The original reviews are taken into account, which speeds up the publication process and spares the referee pool. We are also considering the introduction of online commenting and feedback on the papers to continue the review process post-publishing."

Looking ahead, Jeraj hopes that in five years' time, BPEX will emerge as the key journal for interdisciplinary research of physics and/or engineering in medicine and/or biology. "The initial reactions that I've been getting have been extremely enthusiastic," he told medicalphysicsweb. "People think there is a real need for this interdisciplinary approach, especially for research that isn't quite within one discipline or spans subject fields. BPEX addresses a niche that is not adequately addressed in traditional journals."

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