* Genomics hottest field of study in 2012 - Thomson Reuters
* Higgs boson paper is single most-cited piece of research
* Growing impact of Chinese science evident in literature
By Ben Hirschler
LONDON, June 5 Genomics and particle physics -
offering different perspectives on the fundamental nature of
life and the cosmos - are the two hottest areas of scientific
Eight of the 21 most closely followed scientists in 2012
studied genes and their functions, while the single most-cited
paper last year covered the hunt for the long-sought Higgs boson
particle, according to a Thomson Reuters survey on Wednesday.
It was the third year in a row in which genomics researchers
topped the rankings, in terms of authoring the most highly cited
scientific papers, underscoring the central importance of
genetics in biological science and medicine.
"Genomics is a perennially hot topic as we learn more about
how (DNA) sequences play out in the manifestation of disease,"
said Christopher King, editor of Thomson Reuters ScienceWatch,
which tracks trends in research.
The relevance of the work in genomics was evident this week
at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) congress in
Chicago, where key advances in cancer medicine on display hinged
on understanding the genetic basis of tumours.
The world's "hottest" researcher, as measured by the number
of citations during 2012 for papers published between 2010 and
2012, was Richard Wilson at the Washington University School of
Medicine, the survey showed.
Wilson's laboratory was the first to sequence the genome of
a cancer patient and discover genetic signatures related the
development of disease.
FORMATION OF THE UNIVERSE
Other hot genomics researchers on the list included Eric
Lander of the Broad Institute of MIT at Harvard and Kari
Stefansson, the founder of Icelandic biotech company Decode
Genetics, which was acquired last December by Amgen.
Papers related to the search for the Higgs boson accounted
for nearly one fifth of the 51 papers published in the 2012
hottest research list. The boson and its linked energy field are
viewed by physicists as vital in the formation of the universe
and in giving mass to matter.
No single scientists working on the Higgs particle, however,
were identified in the rankings because of the highly
collaborative nature of the particle physics research, with some
papers involving upwards of 3,000 authors.
Scientists working on the ATLAS experiment at the Large
Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear
Research, outside Geneva received an honourable mention as a
The survey also highlighted the growing importance of
Chinese research in a number of fields, with institutions in the
country producing four of the 21 hottest researchers, including
Jun Wang from the Beijing Genomics Institute.
"When you look at the quantity of papers published by
various nations, China has sky-rocketed in the last few years,"
said King. "That hasn't necessarily been commensurate with
impact in the literature, as measured by citations, but this
seems to be starting to change."