U.S. stem cell expert is "hottest" researcher

WASHINGTON Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:34pm EDT

Rudolf Jaenisch, whose stem cell lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has consistently broken new barriers in the field, in a file photo. REUTERS/File

Rudolf Jaenisch, whose stem cell lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has consistently broken new barriers in the field, in a file photo.

Credit: Reuters/File

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rudolf Jaenisch, whose stem cell lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has consistently broken new barriers in the field, is the world's "hottest" researcher, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

The annual hot list from Thomson Reuters' Science Watch also names four genome experts at MIT and Harvard University's Broad Institute -- Mark Daly, David Altshuler, and Paul I.W. de Bakker and Eric Lander.

Biostatistician Goncalo Abecasis of the University of Michigan, who has worked with the Broad team, also makes the top 12 list, as do Manchester University materials professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, who discovered graphene, the two-dimensional form of carbon and who also worked on a new adhesive known commonly as gecko tape.

Shizuo Akira of Osaka University, named by Thomson Reuters as the hottest researcher in 2005 and 2006, is on the list for work on toll-like receptors -- which are molecular doorways on immune cells.

Carlo Croce from Ohio State University makes the list for papers on cancer genetics, theoretical physicist Mikhail Katsnelson from Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands, is on the list for work on condensed matter and computer scientist Ji-Huan He from Donghua University in Shanghai, China is there for work figuring out how to break down complex problems.

"Our annual roundup of researchers who have authored multiple Hot Papers allows us to recognize those who are leading scientific thought," said Christopher King, editor of Science Watch.

Thomson Reuters is the parent company of Reuters.

Science Watch uses Web of Science database to see which recent papers are being cited the most by other researchers.

"Many of the people featured in Chris King's list over the last decade are people that I would put money on to eventually win a Nobel Prize," Thomson Reuters' David Pendelbury, who compiles the company's annual Nobel predictions, said in a telephone interview.

"Hot papers are recently published papers, papers published in the past two years that are exceedingly highly cited right out of the blocks."

Jaenisch, who works with embryonic stem cells and the new cells made out of skin cells called induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells, had 14 of the most cited papers.

Scientists share their discoveries by writing studies called papers, which are published by journals. Other researchers read them, poke holes in them, try to replicate them and use them as the basis for their own studies.

Each time they do, they credit the original paper by citing it. Scientists who are cited frequently are highly influential and so is their field of study, Pendelbury said.

"You really have to be contributor in an area that is recognized as an important area to your fellow researchers," said Pendelbury. "It's an index, really, of which fields are of most interest."

Jaenisch's highly cited research looks at using iPS cells to study Parkinson's disease, sickle-cell anemia and other conditions.

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