Volume 89 Issue 51 | p. 20
Issue Date: December 19, 2011

Cover Stories: Chemical Year In Review 2011

Publications: Genomics Papers Are Tops In Citations

Biochemistry was the leading discipline, and genomics the hottest topic
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: RNA interference, RNAi, gene silencing, Human Genome Project, personalized medicine, microarray, citations
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2001 Top Five
Genomics reports were the most-cited works in the chemical sciences
Table shows top five most-cited works in the chemical science in 2001.
 
2001 Top Five
Genomics reports were the most-cited works in the chemical sciences

Some scientists put a lot of stock into how many times other scientists cite their research papers. Using the most-cited chemical science papers from 2001 as a guide, C&EN took a look back to see which research topics were leading the way that year. The number one topic was genomics.

“It’s no surprise that two of the most highly cited journal articles from 2001 are the historic and publications on the initial sequencing of the human genome,” says Roger Schenck of the American Chemical Society’s Chemical Abstracts Service, who conducted the literature search for C&EN. The human genome publications, ranked at second and third most cited, not only document the public and private efforts to chase down and spell out the human genome, Schenck adds, but also illustrate two very different methodological approaches to gene sequencing.

Beating the genome-sequencing reports as the most-cited paper from 2001, however, is one in the journal . The paper, from lead author Thomas D. Schmittgen, who was then at Washington State University and is now at Ohio State University, describes a method for analyzing relative changes in gene expression as determined from real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) experiments.

“Although much less celebrated compared with publications such as the human genome sequencing papers in the same year, the methodology for genomic studies using quantitative PCR has stood the test of time,” Schenck says. “Its value is unmistakable by the number of scientists who have cited its use to advance their own research.” Schenck adds that it’s interesting to note that the top three citations all relied on PCR, which was the basis of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1993, less than a decade before.

Weighing in at fourth place of most-cited 2001 papers is a study led by Thomas Tuschl, then at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, in Göttingen, Germany, and now at Rockefeller University. In Nature, Tuschl and his colleagues reported using synthetic strands of RNA, called small interfering RNAs, to silence genes and selectively shut down protein synthesis in mammalian cells (see page 19).

And rounding out the top five is another methods paper, published in from a team led by Stanford University’s Gilbert Chu. The researchers described a method for using microarrays to analyze changes in gene expression of thousands of genes in response to ionizing radiation.

 
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