Citations Predict Nobel Winners?

Thomson Reuters makes its annual data-based picks for which scientists could collect medals in Stockholm later this year.

By | September 25, 2013

Will a Citation Laureate take the stage in Stokholm this year?WIKIMEDIA, ANONInformation resource provider Thomson Reuters has released its annual Nobel Prize picks, which are based on citation numbers mined from the research and citation database, Web of Science. Since it started making the predictions in 2002, 27 of Thomson Reuters’s 183 total “Citation Laureates” have gone on to win the actual prize, though not all were Nobel Laureates the same year they were named Citation Laureates. “Scientific research citations function as a repayment of an intellectual debt,” said Gordon Macomber, managing director of Thomson Reuters Scholarly & Scientific Research, in a release. “By analyzing these citations in aggregate over many years, we are able to identify individual researchers and institutions that have the greatest impact on their fields of study and, as a result, are most likely to capture the attention of the Nobel jury.”

The 2013 Citation Laureates include life scientists whose citation records, according to Thomson Reuters, make them prime candidates for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry or the award for Physiology or Medicine, both of which will be announced next month.

This year’s Citation Laureates in Physiology or Medicine are:

  • University of Edinburgh geneticist Adrian Bird and Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers Howard Cedar and Aharon Razin for “for fundamental discoveries concerning DNA methylation and gene expression.” Cedar and Razin, who have collaborated for the last 30 years, were the first to explain how DNA methylation functions in turning on or off gene expression, helping give birth to the study of epigenetic regulation. Bird extended this work by elucidating two different types of methylation.
  • University of Michigan biochemist Daniel Klionsky, University of Tokyo researcher Noboru Mizushima, and Tokyo Institute of Technology scientist Yoshinori Ohsumi for “for elucidating the molecular mechanisms and physiological function of autophagy.” Ohsumi and Mizushima were two of the first researchers to catalog the proteins involved in autophagy pathways in yeast, and Klionski studies autophagy in mitochondria. Klionski helped developed the understanding that autophagy was more an essential cellular function then a simple garbage disposal system for worn out cell components.
  • Dennis Slamon, a clinical researcher from the University of California, Los Angeles, “for pioneering research identifying the HER-2/neu oncogene, leading to more effective cancer therapy.” Slamon, along with his UCLA colleagues, discovered a monoclonal antibody that blocks HER-2, an aberrant protein found in some women with breast cancer. That antibody would eventually become the drug herceptin, which transformed HER-2-positive breast cancers from death sentences to manageable diseases.

This year’s Citation Laureates in Chemistry include:

  • Paul Alivisatos, Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Northwestern University chemist Chad Mirkin, and New York University chemist, Nadrian Seeman “for contributions to DNA nanotechnology.”
  • University of California, Berkeley researcher Bruce Ames “for the invention of the Ames test of mutagenicity.”

Be sure to stay tuned to The Scientist in October to find out who actually wins Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine and/or Chemistry.

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