About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University January 23, 2006 | Vol. 35 No. 18
Kimmel Cancer Center Has the Five Most-Cited Investigators

By Vanessa Wasta
Johns Hopkins Medicine

Scientific journals are researchers' way of disseminating key findings throughout the medical community. Rather than starting from scratch, investigators build upon published discoveries of others. In cancer research, the "others" are most often five Kimmel Cancer Center investigators, according to the January/February issue of Science Watch, a newsletter published by Thomson Scientific.

With more than 90,000 references between them, the investigators were named as the most frequently cited in cancer research from 1999 to 2005. "The Kimmel Cancer Center solidifies its stance as a research powerhouse in the field of oncology with its researchers accounting for the top five spots in this category," reports the newsletter.

Calling Bert Vogelstein, Kenneth Kinzler, James Herman, Stephen Baylin and David Sidransky "doctors of the decade," Science Watch editor Christopher King said, "The impressive number of citations these exceptional researchers have received is evidence of their profound influence on modern scientific thought."

Science Watch compiled the list by using data from Essential Science Indicators and evaluating institutions based on papers published and cited in clinical medicine journals indexed by Thomson Scientific.

Vogelstein and Kinzler, who topped the cancer list with more than 50,000 citations, are the leading experts in molecular genetics and were in large part responsible for defining cancer as a disease of genetic mistakes. They have identified the key genetic mutations involved in the development and progression of colorectal cancer and have invented genetic screening tests for people at high risk of developing the disease.

Herman and Baylin are pioneers in epigenetics, or the study of gene alterations that occur without mutating the DNA. Instead of mutating, genes are altered by a cellular mechanism known as methylation. When tumor suppressor genes are hypermethylated, they do not function and stop the growth of cells, which may cause cancers to start. Demonstrating how important these changes are, the FDA has recently approved the first demethylating agent, a drug that reduces methylation in genes and restores their function.

Sidransky studies genetic and epigenetic changes in cancer and is a leader in the study of cancer biomarkers, the earliest molecular changes in the cancer process. His discoveries have been used to develop screening tests for cancer by identifying early markers of cancer in urine, blood plasma, sputum and other bodily fluids.

Sidransky also was among the first to definitively link cigarettes to cancer by identifying the mutation caused by smoking.


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |