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Christine Laine, MD, MPH, FACP
Editor-in-Chief, Annals of Internal Medicine
Senior Vice President, American College of Physicians
State University of New York at Stony Brook
The New York Hospital - Cornell University Medical College
Christine Laine, MD, MPH, FACP, Editor-in-Chief, Annals of
Internal Medicine confides that she almost went to art school.
Dr. Laine, an artist? Who knew?! She is the editor of one of the
five most widely cited peer-reviewed medical journals in the world,
a published author, a researcher, and a physician; but, according
to her, as a high school student she had her sights set on going to
Cooper Union, a college in New York City that offers 3
programs—art, architecture, and engineering.
Dr. Laine grew up in the Queens section of New York City, the
oldest of 3 girls. In high school she was a good student who loved
reading, writing, and drawing, and who elected to take art classes
despite her mother's advice that she take typing instead. Dr.
Laine's father, however, an engineer and alumnus of Cooper Union,
encouraged his daughter's interest in art. "My mother was worried
about my financial future," says Dr. Laine, "talk of art school
literally brought tears to her eyes."
So, Dr. Laine put away her drawing pencils and went off to
Hamilton College in upstate New York to focus on writing. At the
end of four years, she graduated summa cum laude with a
double major in writing and biology. "I began as a writing major,"
says Dr. Laine, "but along the way I decided to add a biology
degree in case I wanted to apply to medical school." She laughs
about it now, saying, "It's possible I have ADHD. I seem to have
trouble focusing on just one thing."
Dr. Laine also admits she did not grow up wanting to be a
doctor. "I was not the child putting Band-Aids on my stuffed
animals," she says, "but I did well in school and liked science, so
medical school seemed a possibility." The possibility became her
reality. In 1987, Dr. Laine received her medical degree from the
State University of New York at Stony Brook. Following that, she
went on to complete her residency training in internal medicine at
New York Hospital Cornell University Medical College.
Choosing internal medicine was the easy part for Dr. Laine. In
medical school she was not drawn to the study of any particular
part of the body. Instead, it was teacher and internist Dr. Harry
Fritz who influenced her. "Dr. Fritz was my mentor at Stony Brook,"
says Dr. Laine. "He was the nicest man and a truly great doctor. I
knew I wanted to be that kind of doctor."
With degrees in writing, biology, and medicine, it would appear
her trajectory toward the role of medical journal editor was being
masterfully crafted. "It looks well-planned," says Dr. Laine, "but
it wasn't. It was more a series of 'happy accidents.'"
One of the most significant "happy accidents" in Dr. Laine's
life was meeting husband, David Weinberg, MD, MSc, a
gastroenterologist who is currently the Chair of Internal Medicine
at Fox Chase Cancer Center. The two met when she was an intern and
he was a medical student at New York Hospital Cornell Medical
College. A princess (yes, an actual princess) from a small country
had come to New York in need of a CAT scan. When it was determined
the princess would also need a lumbar puncture, Dr. Laine was
charged with admitting her and was told to invite then medical
student David Weinberg to assist.
The couple, however, was at different stages of their medical
careers, so when Dr. Weinberg went on to do his residency at Beth
Israel Hospital in Boston; Dr. Laine applied for a fellowship in
general internal medicine and clinical epidemiology at the same
hospital. The fellowship earned her a master of public health
degree, with a concentration in quantitative methods and clinical
epidemiology from Harvard University. When Dr. Weinberg then
"matched" for his gastroenterology fellowship at the University of
Pennsylvania, the couple moved to Philadelphia where they began
their careers and started a family.
The road to Annals
After moving to Philadelphia, Dr. Laine accepted a position at
Jefferson Medical College, because Jefferson offered her the
opportunity to split her time between research, teaching, and
clinical practice-"there's that ADHD thing again," she jokes, but
then adds, "One of the great things about internal medicine is that
it offers such a wide variety of career choices to medical
While working at Jefferson, a former associate she had worked
with on a research project in Boston called her. It was Dr. Frank
Davidoff, who was then Editor of Annals of Internal
Medicine . Dr. Davidoff was looking for an internist to join
his staff as an associate editor and invited her to fill the post.
It was initially a one day per week commitment, but within a few
years she had become a full-time editor. Dr. Laine credits Dr.
Davidoff with teaching her everything she knows about editing a
In 2009, Dr. Laine was named Senior Vice President and Editor of
Annals, becoming the youngest editor in the history of
Annals. She feels fortunate and privileged to have such an
interesting job and loves the diversity of the work and its
challenges. On any given day, she might be reviewing manuscripts
with her editors, discussing paper quality and printing costs with
publishing staff, or working with IT staff to develop apps or
further enhance the electronic delivery of Annals
Dr. Laine says she can see the day "when print goes away and
everyone is reading Annals on their tablets." "Like
newspapers, we have to continue to adapt and evolve," she says,
"and it's not just the issue of print to electronic, but how the
journal is financed and the type of research and manuscripts we are
Dr. Laine has retained her ties to Jefferson where she is a
Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of
Internal Medicine and volunteers one day per week as a preceptor
for medical residents. Widely respected in the field of medical
journalism, she is a member of the International Committee of
Medical Journal Editors, the Council of Science Editors, and a
member of the Ethics Committee of the World Association of Medical
Editors. She has authored numerous articles on subjects such as
patient-centered communication; preventive care; quality of care;
women in medicine, and HIV/AIDS care.
Managing the balancing act
Drs. Laine and Weinberg have two children, 19-year-old Matthew
who is studying architecture at Washington University and
17-year-old Emilia, a high school student who is currently writing
essays for college applications. As the mother of two teenagers,
Dr. Laine is a veteran when it comes to balancing career and
family. When medical residents ask her for some practical advice
she always tells them, "make sure your child's school or daycare is
located between where you work and where you live-it eliminates
Addressing the challenges of family and career in a more serious
way, Dr. Laine admits, "As a young parent, I was afraid my child
would know the babysitter's name before the word "Mommy." "But,"
she acknowledges, "if we, as working parents, think that no one
else can make a valuable contribution to raising our children, we
will never be happy with the choices we make." Dr. Laine considers
herself and her family fortunate that her children have a wide
social circle that includes strong ties to other adults.
Dr. Laine says she also learned a great deal about managing
priorities from two significant women in her life-her
mother-in-law, a practicing physician who raised 2 children and Dr.
Barbara Turner, a former Annals editor and mother of
three. "I was fortunate," says Dr. Laine, "these women who had come
before me had already figured a lot of it out." "It also helps,"
she adds, "that I married someone who did not grow up with a mother
who was doing all of the childcare, so he didn't see it as the
With her full-time schedule, Dr. Laine hasn't yet gone back to
drawing (maybe when she's an empty nester), but she still likes
going to art museums, and she especially enjoys traveling with her
family. Last summer, the family vacationed in Sicily, and previous
trips include Turkey and Morocco. For the past several winters,
they have also enjoyed ski vacations in Utah.
As for Dr. Laine's own mother, a woman who clearly influenced
her daughter's career path, one has to believe, she probably had
little reason to worry about her daughter's future. It is unlikely
Dr. Laine would have suffered the plight of a starving artist. It
is more likely she would have become a renowned artist or a
trailblazer in the art world. Her energy and passion for learning
would have assured her a successful career no matter what path she
November 2013 Issue of IMpact
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