Q&A with Nelly Baratta

Meet Nelly, an Associate Editor at Nature Communications who is currently helping to create a new webcast for the cancer-immune setpoint community.
Q&A with Nelly Baratta
  1. What is your full name, job title and where do you work?

My name is Maria Giuseppina Baratta, Associate Editor for Nature Communications in London. But I actually go by the name of Nelly!

2. Describe your job in a tweet

I help authors to publish great research articles!

3. What does it involve?

In a nutshell:  broad scientific vision, practicality and fairness. One of my main tasks is to select manuscripts to be sent out to reviewers, which needs me to assess its relevance, novelty and significance to the wider community. After receiving reviewers’ reports, you also need to make tough decisions on how to proceed, which involve a lot of practicality and fairness.

4. Describe a typical day at work

I will read up to four new manuscripts and choose maybe one or two for peer-review. I then select and contact suitable scientists as reviewers, based on their excellent publication track-record in that specific field. On the same day, I will also typically receive back reviewer reports from at least one or two manuscripts, so I will also move these forward. Once a paper is accepted, I’ll then need to edit it carefully so it’s ready for publication.

5. Tell us a bit about your career so far

I received my PhD in molecular oncology in 2009 from the University Federico II of Naples working on Ras pathways in thyroid cancer. I also spent some time at the EMBL institute in Heidelberg screening lead compounds capable of interfering with oncogenic Ras activity. I then moved to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute where I carried out postdoctoral studies to identify druggable targets for ovarian cancer. In 2015, I joined Nature Research as an editor for Nature Communications, where I now handle manuscripts on cancer with a focus on cancer immunology and metabolism.

6. What are you most proud of?

I am proud to have helped publish many high-impact papers that I believe provide an extremely relevant contribution to the field of cancer immunology.  Each of these manuscripts are of high scientific quality and several describe a variety of original ways that cancer can adopt in order to dampen the immune response providing the basis for new therapeutic interventions. 

7. What part do you play in the cancer-immune setpoint?

I am currently collaborating with another editor on producing a new webcast for the cancer-immune setpoint. The webcast is planned for broadcast in the coming months and I am very much looking forward to helping to bring this to life!

8. What do you hope the cancer-immune setpoint will achieve?

I hope it will speed up the development of tailored immunotherapeutic approaches.

9. What are your hopes for the future of cancer immunotherapy?

I have great hopes for the future of cancer immunotherapy. It is indeed the first time that we can actually talk about “curing” cancer rather than just “treating” it. However, there is still a vast majority of patients that are not responsive to such approaches and our challenges are to understand the reasons why this is, so that we can start to tailor therapy on the basis of each individual case.

10. What advice do you have for those working in this field?

Not to let negative results discourage you as even those are very important steps on the way to finding a solution. 

11. What do you do to wind down?

I exercise and I do a lot of Pilates.

12. Tell us something unusual about yourself

The reason why I go by Nelly is because my grandmother was called Nella and my parents nicknamed me Nellina (Little Nella) since I was born. The name got shorter and became Nelly growing up.