The BMJ has announced that Dr Fiona Godlee is stepping down as the title's Editor-in-Chief after more than 16 years in the role.
Fiona, who leaves her position at the end of the year, is the first woman to lead the journal since its inception in 1840.
She first joined as an assistant editor in 1990 and became editor-in-chief in March 2005. Under her editorship, The BMJ has become firmly established as one of the world’s most influential medical journals, defined by its mission to work towards a healthier world for all.
The magazine continues to be widely read, while, in the past five years, worldwide usage on bmj.com has grown from around 1m unique users per month to nearly 6m.
The BMJ has also become an investigative campaigner, highlighting issues including research fraud and misconduct, advocating for action on climate change and championing patient and public involvement in research and healthcare.
Most recently, Fiona was instrumental in the UK government’s decision to abandon plans to allow households to mix over Christmas, almost certainly helping to save lives from COVID-19.
As Editorial Director of the title's parent publishing company, BMJ, Fiona has helped champion open-access research, establishing BMJ Open as one of the world’s largest open access medical journals following its launch in 2011. And in 2019, BMJ was a founding partner of medRxiv, the first dedicated preprint server for medical and health sciences.
Today, a third of BMJ’s 70 journals are open access, promoting exchange of ideas and rapid access to knowledge, to improve health and healthcare globally.
Fiona said: “It has been the great privilege and joy of my professional life to work at The BMJ and to help it develop as an international voice for improving the quality of medical research and practice. I’m deeply grateful to everyone I’ve worked with over the years - mentors, colleagues, advisors and contributors around the world, and I’m immensely proud of The BMJ team - there can be no more intelligent, creative and professional group of people.
“BMJ is heading into a new and exciting phase of its development so it’s the right time for new leadership. Hard though it is to give up something you love, I’ll be leaving the journal in excellent hands. I look forward to exploring new opportunities that continue my interests in improving health and protecting the environment.”
Chris Jones, BMJ’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Fiona has led The BMJ with great energy and integrity and I want to thank her for her dedication and huge contribution to BMJ’s mission of helping to create a healthier world. The pandemic has seen unprecedented interest in what we publish and Fiona has shown extraordinary leadership, compassion, and clarity of thinking during this challenging time.”
He added: “Fiona leaves us at a moment of terrific growth for the journal and the company, as the publishing world adapts to new challenges and embarks on a truly digital future. We will now begin the process of finding the next editor-in-chief.”
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chair of council at the British Medical Association, added: “We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have someone of Fiona’s calibre at the helm of The BMJ for the past 16 years. I’m in no doubt that her commitment to fairness, equality, and quality of care, and her courage in addressing issues such as racism in the NHS, will have a lasting impact for both doctors and patients alike.
“I would especially like to thank her for the incredible support she has given us as a profession throughout the pandemic. On behalf of all BMA members I’d like to wish Fiona all the very best for the future.”