Harvard Heads Clinical Research Ranking

With six faculty members crowding the top ranks, Harvard University dominates a list of the 20 most-cited authors of clinical research papers between 1981 and 1998. The rankings were released today by ScienceWatch, the newsletter of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in Philadelphia.

An Ivy Leaguer didn't capture first place, though: That honor goes to Thomas E. Starzl, a transplant surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh, whose work was cited 26,456 times in journals indexed by ISI in this 17-year period. Starzl was the first to prove the safety and feasibility of liver transplantation in the 1960s, a Pittsburgh spokesperson says, and during the 1980s and '90s he helped develop immunosuppressive drugs that "radically improved the chances of survival" for transplant patients.

The second most-cited clinician (with 22,734 references) is oncologist Steven A. Rosenberg of the National Cancer Institute, a developer of innovative immunotherapy techniques and the first gene therapist to introduce a foreign gene into patients.

Most of the Harvard clinicians--ranking from 3 to 18--are associated with large epidemiological studies. Walter C. Willett, for example, relied on data provided by thousands of nurses in Boston to study nutrition, heart disease, and cancer. He may be best known for finding that not all fat in the diet--just saturated fat--is associated with a higher risk of cancer. Willett sees an irony in the rankings: "Some of my most important papers," he says, are methodology reports that "are not counted at all." Also included among the top 10 clinicians are AIDS researchers Robert C. Gallo of the University of Maryland and Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, ranked 8 and 9 respectively (see complete table below).

In a separate analysis by field of expertise, ISI found that oncology had the greatest impact between 1981 and 1998 with 17.79 citations per paper, followed by endocrinology (17.01), hematology (14.83), clinical psychology and psychiatry (13.49), and cardiology (11.48).

Most-Cited Researchers in Clinical Medicine
(Ranked by total citations, based on papers published and cited in ISI-indexed journals of clinical medicine between 1981 and June 1998)
Rank Name Institution Field Citations
1 Thomas E. Starzl University of Pittsburgh Transplantation 26,456
2 Steven A. Rosenberg National Cancer Institute Oncology 22,734
3 Meir J. Stampfer Harvard University Epidemiology 20,225
4 E. Donnall Thomas F. Hutchinson Cancer Ctr. Transplantation 19,781
5 Charles H. Hennekens Harvard University Epidemiology 19,645
6 Eugene Braunwald Harvard University Cardiology 19,451
7 Walter C. Willett Harvard University Epidemiology 19,281
8 Robert C. Gallo Inst. Human Vir./U. of Maryland Virology/HIV 18,659
9 Anthony S. Fauci Natl. Inst. Allergy & Infectious Dis. Virology/HIV 18,114
10 Rainer Storb F. Hutchinson Cancer Ctr. Oncology 17,560
11 Charles A. Dinarello U. of Colorado Health Sci. Ctr. Immunology 17,429
12 William B. Kannel Boston University Cardiology 15,727
13 Frank E. Speizer Harvard University Epidemiology 15,480
14 Eric J. Topol Cleveland Clinic Found. Cardiology 14,917
15 Graham A. Colditz Harvard University Epidemiology 14,296
16 Stephen R. Bloom Imperial College London Metabolic Med. 14,221
17 C. Dean Buckner Response Oncology Inc. Oncology 13,984
18 Bernard Rosner Harvard University Epidemiology 13,931
19 John H. Laragh Cornell Medical Ctr. Cardiology 13,539
20 Velentin Fuster Mt. Sinai Med. Ctr. Cardiology 13,376