PLOS Medicine Special Issues

PLOS Medicine Special Issues bring together original research and commentary on priority topics in human health under the guidance of expert Guest Editors. By featuring such work in full open access, the journal seeks to raise broad awareness and accelerate progress in these areas.  Consistent with journal policy, special issues do not receive sponsorship or advertising from companies that produce medical treatments, devices or diagnostics, and all published research articles undergo full peer review.  

New Tools and Strategies for Tuberculosis Diagnosis, Care, and Elimination


As the leading infectious cause of death worldwide, tuberculosis demands an urgent response that will realistically enable the disease’s elimination. Despite increases in funding for TB prevention and care in recent years, progress still lags behind targets for the WHO’s End TB strategy.

Guest edited by Dr. Claudia Denkinger (Head of Tuberculosis, Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics), Dr. Richard Chaisson, (Director, Johns Hopkins University Center for Tuberculosis Research), and Dr. Mark Hatherill (Director, South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative), this PLOS Medicine special issue focuses on new approaches to fighting and ending TB, including discovery and validation of novel biomarkers and diagnostic technologies, development of new treatments, testing of vaccines for prevention of infection and recurrence, and implementation studies of new strategies for diagnosis and treatment of TB.

Machine Learning in Health and Biomedicine


Modern statistical modeling techniques—often called machine learning—are posited as a transformative force for human health. High-profile reports of diagnostic success demonstrate promise, but head-to-head comparisons to classical analyses of clinical data indicate that restraint is warranted. Practical questions are also timely. Will machine learning drive precision medicine? Will it elevate care in low-resource settings? How will the clinician interact with the machine?


In this Special Issue, PLOS Medicine and our Guest Editors Atul Butte, Suchi Saria, and Aziz Sheikh will feature research that applies machine learning methods to clinical care, health systems, and pathophysiology. These articles will provide a broad perspective on what machine learning is achieving in health and biomedicine, and will be accompanied by expert commentary on the application, impact, and ethics of these approaches.


Climate Change and Health

Climate change and the impacts on health are being increasingly reported and documented. It is expected that with continued rises in global temperature and greenhouse gas emissions the effects on health will become more widely experienced and extreme. PLOS Medicine, will publish a Special Issue on climate change and health in July 2018. This issue is guest edited by Dr Jonathan Patz (Director, Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) and Dr Madeleine Thomson (International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Columbia University) . The issue will focus on topics including the health effects of extreme heat and flooding, food system effects, non-communicable disease risk, such as air pollution, infectious disease risks and the health benefits of greenhouse gas mitigation policies. The issue will have a particular focus on evidence based studies focused on policy-relevant work on adaptation and mitigation options. Read the full Call for Papers, or submit your research to this special issue.

Cardiovascular Disease and Multimorbidity

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the number one cause of death and disability globally, with an estimated 17.7 million deaths from CVD in 2015.  More than three-quarters of CVD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. The demographic shift towards older populations across the globe and the relatively slower decline in morbidity compared with mortality from CVD have resulted in increasing numbers of people with both CVD and other chronic and disabling conditions.

In March 2018, PLOS Medicine published a special issue on the identification, prevention, and treatment of CVD with multimorbidity. This special issue was guest edited by Dr Carolyn S. P. Lam (Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore), Dr Kazem Rahimi (The George Institute for Global Health, University of Oxford, UK), and Dr Steven Steinhubl (Scripps Translational Science Institute, USA).

Advances in HIV Prevention, Treatment and Cure

HIV infection continues to pose a critical risk to health in many countries. UNAIDS estimated that as of 2016 the total HIV-infected population was 36.7 million, including 1.8 million people newly infected that year. Although some 19.5 million people are receiving antiretroviral treatment, a substantial treatment gap leaves many millions of people at risk of AIDS-related diseases and, if unaware of their status, likely to infect others.

Throughout November 2017, PLOS Medicine published a Special Issue on advances in HIV Prevention, Treatment and Cure. This Special Issue was guest edited by Dr Linda-Gail Bekker (Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, University of Cape Town); Dr Steven Deeks (University of California, San Francisco); and Dr Sharon Lewin (Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital).

Traumatic Injury

Traumatic injury has long been recognized as a neglected disease of extremely high burden. Although the nature of traumatic injury and need for swift care pose challenges to research during the immediate response to trauma, high-quality scientific research and clinical evidence in these early phases have the potential to mitigate long term disability and prevent deaths. In July 2017, PLOS Medicine published a Special Issue on Trauma, guest edited by Prof. Karim Brohi (Centre for Trauma Sciences, Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom) and Dr. Martin Schreiber (Division of Trauma, Critical Care, and Acute Care Surgery, Department of Surgery, Oregon Health and Science University, United States).

Dementia Across the Lifespan and Around the Globe – Pathophysiology, Prevention, Treatment, and Societal Impact

Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) estimates that in 2015 there were 46.8 million cases of dementia worldwide, with a total cost exceeding US$ 818 billion for the year. In early 2017, PLOS Medicine will publish a special issue on the pathophysiology, prevention, treatment, and societal impact of dementia. This special issue is guest edited by Dr. Carol Brayne, Director of the Cambridge Institute for Public Health at Cambridge University, and Dr. Bruce Miller, Director of the Aging and Memory Center at the University of California San Francisco, and includes commissioned Editorials and Perspectives written by leaders in the field. 

Translating the Cancer Genome — Implications for Diagnosis and Treatment

Over the last few years, dramatic reductions in the cost of sequencing as well advances in sequencing technologies have enabled key insights into the genomic alterations and somatic mutations that lead to cancer and accompany disease progression. For many cancers, the drivers and molecular evolutionary history are now beginning to be understood, and this molecular information is being used to develop novel, and in many cases tailored, therapies. The field is at an exciting juncture: promising results are emerging from immunotherapy and vaccine development programs. In light of this, PLOS Medicine has published a special issue on this topic, guest edited by Dr. Elaine Mardis and Dr. Marc Ladanyi.

Diabetes Prevention

Diabetes is a global problem with recent estimates of a staggering 410 million people with diabetes mellitus in 2013. Furthermore, projections from the International Diabetes Foundation suggest that by 2040 the global burden of diabetes may be as high as 642 million, which would mean that 1 in 10 adults will be living with diabetes. The high risk of disabling and life-threatening complications resulting from poor control of blood glucose, and the enormous individual and societal costs associated with them, demonstrate the urgent need for more effective approaches to prevention. This Special Issue - guest edited by Prof. Nick Wareham and Prof. William Herman - features PLOS Medicine publications that focus on the prevention of diabetes, including lifestyle changes that can elicit reductions in diabetes incidence and how taxes can reduce the number of sugary foods purchased.