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Greetings from the editor 2023/2
  1. Josef S Smolen
  1. Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine 3, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  1. Correspondence to Professor Josef S Smolen, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine 3, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria; josef.smolen.ard{at}

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On the occasion of the 2023 Annual European Congress of Rheumatology, the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, the EULAR Journal, conveys cordial greetings to all participants of the EULAR Congress and to all its readers. For the first time since 2019, this Congress will be held as an on-site only conference in contrast to its hybrid nature in 2022 and virtually in 2020 and 2021. While owing to the pandemic, we have learnt that video conferences and virtual meetings have some merits, they just cannot replace live meetings in lecture halls, lively discussions in meeting rooms, body language beyond wordy expressions and face-to-face interactions at poster boards, in the corridors or when sipping a coffee with a colleague. Thus, this issue of ARD is dedicated to a return to normality—hopefully in health and great advancement of science.

The pandemic has clearly taught us how fast modern science can develop vaccines and what having vaccines may mean for rheumatology.1 It has taught us to better manage and guide our patients in an unusual situation, from distant consultations to protection from infection2 and provided new lessons on the importance of T-cell immunity on vaccination.3–5 Nevertheless, the conundrum continues: why do so many people contract SARS-CoV2 infection despite having been vaccinated and/or previously experienced the infection? This is in stark contrast to the 94%–95% (sic!) protection from infection that the original trials had promised.6 7 Is it just due to the viral variants? And if so, why? While it is for others to answer this question,8 which will also be addressed in the journal in the nearer future, this has consequences for our patients,9 even if, importantly so, some valuable protection through vaccination exists.10 Hopefully, ways towards full protection will soon be found.

The pandemic has also brought most journals a hitherto unexperienced wealth of submissions during the years 2020 and 2021. ARD was no exception and the submissions had almost doubled during these years. This has been a big challenge for the editorial team and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved again for the hard work, but especially also our authors who have submitted their research work trying to create evidence that had to be built. But double submission numbers do not mean doubling published items, because also in these years ARD looked out for novelty and quality. However, selecting the right papers at a time of no or only little knowledge in this unforeseen area was only possible with the tremendous help of the editorial board and the many referees who reviewed the submissions within a very short time frame, thereby providing the journal and the community with invaluable support and allowing quick decisions to be made on publications in a rapidly evolving field.

The pandemic is essentially over, but the war in Europe is not. Exactly a year ago, ARD published an editorial on this catastrophic war that had been ongoing for few months by then, calling for peace in the Ukraine.11 To my dismay, the Russian aggression continues. The war machinery is still rolling—a tragedy for the Ukrainian and Russian people, killing thousands and thousands of their young generation, destroying not only families, houses, hospitals, streets, cities, but also impeding cultural and scientific developments, aside from the massive economic consequences for Europe and the world. How can anyone explain that in the 21st century so-called leaders still have not learnt that attempting to destroy others has always also been disastrous for one’s own population…May those responsible for the war awake and stop it as soon as possible—there have been so many deaths and every additional death is yet another piece of evidence of human failure.

In my ‘Greetings’ published at the time of last year’s EULAR Congress, I had mentioned the friendly relationship between the EULAR Journal and ACR’s Arthritis & Rheumatology.12 This relationship has meanwhile been further expanded by organising joint sessions orchestrated by the editors of the two Journals at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and EULAR conferences. We started with this activity last November in Philadelphia and will continue it this year in Milan on Friday afternoon. Each of the journal editors selects two recent papers that should highlight some of the many publication aspects in these two major societal journals, Arthritis & Rheumatology 13 14 and ARD.15 16 If you have time, please join us at this session for a direct discussion with the authors of these publications. There will also be an opportunity to pose questions to Dr Solomon and myself regarding publication policies and other matters related to our journals.

The current issue contains a number of Recommendations and Points to Consider that have been developed by EULAR task forces17 18 and other groups of investigators.19–21 Developing such publications is a major endeavour within EULAR and the international rheumatological community and serve to advance our field by bringing together state-of-the-art information or updates to similar previous activities.

I would also like to direct you to the excellent review by Ospelt on epigenetic factors that drive joint damage.22 And as always, papers on many topics in rheumatology, from rheumatoid arthritis to macrophage activation syndrome complement this issue.

An additional point regarding ARD is also newsworthy. As briefly mentioned in my ‘Greetings’ earlier this year,23 the associate editors of ARD will develop virtual books named ‘The ARD collection of…’ comprising the most interesting publications on a specific theme published in the journal over the last 2–3 years. These virtual topic collections will bring together papers selected by associate editors who will highlight the importance of the latest findings published within the pages of ARD often months or years apart, in an editorial or brief review article. This activity is focused primarily at those readers who are not experts in the specific field and thus may have missed one or several of these publications. As a first virtual ‘ARD collection’, Dimitris Boumpas provides us with ‘The ARD collection on lupus nephritis’, summarising what has been going on in lupus nephritis in ARD in recent years.24 Such virtual books will be presented every 3–4 months over the next 2 years and we all hope that you will appreciate the efforts made and especially the respective papers.

Let me please close by wishing you a successful EULAR congress—and wishing all of us peace for the world.

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.