Top JAMA editor to resign after AMA reviews podcast controversy

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Howard Bauchner, MD, is stepping down June 30 after a 10-year run as editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association. He had been on administrative leave since March, after another journal editor dismissed structural racism in a Feb. 24 JAMA podcast episode. 

The American Medical Association has established a search committee for a new permanent top editor. In the meantime, Phil Fontanarosa, MD, JAMA's executive editor, will serve as the journal's lead editor. 

In March, the AMA's Journal Oversight Committee placed Dr. Bauchner on administrative leave after Ed Livingston, MD, who was the journal's deputy editor and has since resigned, dismissed structural racism in a Feb. 24 podcast episode later promoted on the journal's Twitter account. 

"No physician is racist, so how can there be structural racism in healthcare?" JAMA said in a since-deleted tweet promoting the episode. 

The AMA said in a June 1 announcement Dr. Bauchner would be stepping down.

"I remain profoundly disappointed in myself for the lapses that led to the publishing of the tweet and podcast," he said. "Although I did not write or even see the tweet, or create the podcast, as editor-in-chief, I am ultimately responsible for them.

"I share and have always supported the AMA's commitment to dismantling structural racism in the institutions of American medicine, as evident by numerous publications in JAMA on this issue and related subjects, and look forward to personally contributing to that work going forward," Dr. Bauchner added. "The best path forward for the JAMA Network, and for me personally, is to create an opportunity for new leadership." 

Otis Brawley, MD, professor of oncology and epidemiology at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University and former CMO of the American Cancer Society, is leading the search for Dr. Bauchner's replacement. 

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