Nobel hopefuls by the numbers

The researcher who developed induced pluripotent stem cells, the biochemist who invented DNA microarrays, and the immunologist who discovered dendritic cells are just a few of the scientists whose citation records are robust enough to attract a Nobel Prize this year, according to Thomson Reuters, the company that manages the Web of Science citation indexing tool -- brainchild of __The Scientist__ founder Eugene Garfield. The company released their 2010 Nobel Prize linkurl:predictions;http://scie

Sep 21, 2010
Bob Grant
The researcher who developed induced pluripotent stem cells, the biochemist who invented DNA microarrays, and the immunologist who discovered dendritic cells are just a few of the scientists whose citation records are robust enough to attract a Nobel Prize this year, according to Thomson Reuters, the company that manages the Web of Science citation indexing tool -- brainchild of __The Scientist__ founder Eugene Garfield. The company released their 2010 Nobel Prize linkurl:predictions;http://science.thomsonreuters.com/nobel/ today (21st September).
For the past 8 years, Thomson Reuters, has thrown its hat into the ring, publishing the names of "Citation Laureates" -- a list of researchers that are potential recipients of that year's Nobel Prizes, based on an analysis of 30 years of citation counts. Thomson Reuters citation analyst David Pendlebury performs these calculations, and is in charge of putting the list together every year. "I'm always hopeful, and yet I'm usually surprised if we get any right because of the statistical improbability of doing this," he said of the exercise. "Ultimately what were trying to do is show that there is a meaning to citations in the literature and they correspond to subjective measure of quality and esteem in science." Though Pendlebury admits that it's "almost miraculous that we ever get anybody right," his prediction formula -- which also considers factors, such as other prestigious prizes (Lasker, Kyoto, etc.) researchers have recently won, and whether a particular discovery is of the type typically recognized by the Nobel committees -- has struck gold in recently. Last year, Thomson Reuters correctly predicted that Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider, and linkurl:Jack Szostak;http://genetics.mgh.harvard.edu/szostakweb/people.html would win the prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the enzyme telomerase and how telomeres protect chromosomes. And in 2008, Thomson Reuters Citation Laureate linkurl:Roger Tsien;http://www.tsienlab.ucsd.edu/People.htm became a Nobel Laureate for the discovery and development of the ubiquitous green fluorescent protein (though Thomson Reuters failed to name Tsien's co-awardees linkurl:Osamu Shimomura;http://www.mbl.edu/news/features/shimomura.html and Martin Chalfie, who contributed to the discovery). Without further ado, here are the 2010 Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates whose accomplishments are pertinent to the life sciences, listed by field: Chemistry: - Patrick Brown, Stanford University biochemist, "for the invention and application of DNA microarrays, a revolutionary tool in the study of variations in gene expression." - Stephen Lippard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemist, "for pioneering research in bioinorganic chemistry, including the discovery of metallointercalators to disrupt DNA replication, an important contribution to improved cancer therapy." Physiology or Medicine: - Douglas Coleman, Jackson Laboratory senior staff scientist emeritus, and Jeffrey Friedman, Rockefeller University molecular geneticist, "for the discovery of leptin, a hormone regulating appetite and metabolism." - linkurl:Ernest McCulloch;http://www.cdnmedhall.org/dr-ernest-mcculloch and James Till, both senior scientists at the Ontario Cancer Institute, and Shinya Yamanaka, Kyoto University and University of California, San Francisco, stem cell researcher, "for the discovery of stem cells and the development of induced pluripotent stem cells." - Ralph Steinman, Rockefeller University immunologist, "for the discovery of dendritic cells, key regulators of immune response." Jeffrey Friedman, who Thomson Reuters tapped as a potential winner of this year's Physiology or Medicine Prize, told __The Scientist__ that it was "cool" that he was named in the company's predictions, but added that he doesn't really pay much attention to such hubbub. "I like what I do, and just try to keep my head down," he said. As the research community's gaze begins to shift towards Stockholm, where in two weeks a new class of Nobel Laureates will join the annals of science history, stay tuned to __The Scientist__. We'll be covering any more predictions that crop up, and we'll provide instant reports, reactions, and analysis when the science Nobels are announced in the first week of October. **__Related stories:__***linkurl:Opinion: A fishy Nobel Prize;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/56210/
[10th December 2009]*linkurl:Telomere researchers win Nobel;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56039/
[5th October 2009]*linkurl:2009 Nobel predictions go public;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56003/
[25th September 2009]