Now that the Portuguese Journal of Pulmonology has reached the highest impact factor of the national medical journals,1 it is worth analyzing other indicators of national respiratory research.
To be widely recognized as a mature medical society and specialty, Pulmonology needs to leave a distinct international footprint.
What image does the Portuguese Pulmonology present to the international arena?Participation in the European Respiratory Society (ERS) Congress
Portuguese participation in the ERS has been increasing in recent years (Fig. 1) reaching in 2015, 2.1% of accepted abstracts. However this number is below the European representation of other Portuguese societies; it is even lower than that of Greece in 2006 (Greece in 2006, 13.7 abstracts per million inhabitants versus Portugal in 2015, 8.8 abstracts per million inhabitants).2
During 2015, the ERS meeting in Amsterdam had 23.293 participants, 317 of which were Portuguese (1.4%). Out of the 5088 abstracts submitted, 136 were sent from Portugal (2.7%); Total acceptance rate was 79% while the acceptance rate of Portuguese abstracts was 63% very close to India (61%) and Egypt (63%) (Fig. 2).Bibliometry of respiratory medicine research
According to the report from General Directorate for education and health statistics3 (Direção Geral de Estatísticas de Educação e Ciência) for Pulmonology, in 2012, the number of publications indexed in Web of Science was 5.88 per million inhabitants, only better than Luxembourg and a long way from Holland the leader in Europe with 22.95 publications per million inhabitants. Since 2007, indexed publications on the Respiratory systems increased to a peak in 2009 with around 8 per million inhabitants, declining in 2012 to around 6 per million inhabitants. This is far below the indexed publications of cardiac and cardiovascular system in 2012 with more than 16 per million inhabitants. Moreover analyzing the impact per publication during 2008–2012 Portuguese Pulmonology is at the bottom of the list, compared with other medical disciplines, with Critical Care, Allergy and Anesthesiology leading the group.Participation of Portuguese centres on EU funded projects
The Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development showed a significant number of funded projects in the area of chronic lung disorders, tuberculosis and cancer with an amount of over €350 Million.4 Spain got €27 Million, Holland €30 Million, Italy €27 Million, Greece €12 Million, while Portugal only managed €3 Million (including 2 projects in COPD and 2 projects in cancer). Three participants came from academia (HOMECARE project including the University of Aveiro, WELCOME project including the University of Coimbra and IL7sigNETure coordinated by the IMM-Instituto de Medicina Molecular) and one from industry (LUNGCARD project coordinated by STAB VIDA, Investigação e serviços em ciências biológicas).
So, unfortunately, Portuguese Pulmonology footprint in Europe is much smaller what should be expected.
What should we aim for in the future? To keep Portuguese Pulmonology hidden from Europe, like a stone raft or…navigate other seas, trusting in the talent and creativity of the boldest?
We need to support the new generations of pulmonologists to reach excellence in research by reinforcing local and international networks. A strong respiratory research organization is highly desirable. Collaboration between, academia, clinicians, scientific societies and industry is strongly recommended. Tightly monitoring the progress of this endeavour is mandatory! Only If we succeed in this may we hope for a better healthcare in the future!Conflicts of interest
The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.