Top universities and researchers in RNA gene editing

Broad Institute and other US-based research centres lead in cutting-edge genomics topic

April 3, 2018
DNA and RNA molecules
Source: iStock

Genomics is one of the most rapidly developing areas of science with gene editing one of the focal points for research teams in recent years.

Therefore, it is no surprise that a sub-field of this discipline that focuses on gene editing involving ribonucleic acid (RNA) – which, like DNA, is one of the main building blocks of life - is the third most-trending topic in Elsevier’s Scopus bibliographic database.

The topic – which includes research that is using the cutting edge gene-editing technique known as CRISPR – is being led by American institutions in terms of universities that are producing the most highly cited research.

At the top of the list is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which published more than 100 pieces of research in this specific topic area from 2014 to 2017, with more than four-fifths of this being among the top 10 per cent of cited work worldwide.

A major partner of MIT in the field, Harvard University – the institutions jointly set up the Broad Institute, a biomedical and genomic research centre near Boston – published more than twice as much over the period (247 pieces of research) but with a slightly smaller proportion that was highly cited.

Sandwiched between the two in the list by their expected output in the world’s top 10 most cited research are two University of California institutions, San Francisco and Berkeley.

Meanwhile, if the list of individual researchers producing highly cited research in the field is filtered to those publishing 10 or more papers from 2014 to 2017, then it is topped by a PhD student at the Broad Institute.

Nine of the publications produced by Bernd Zetsche, who is part of a research team that is specifically looking at techniques that could help treat brain diseases, were in the world’s top 1 per cent most cited, giving him an expected output index 90 times the average.

His team at the Broad Institute is headed by principal investigator Feng Zhang, who has appeared as an author on many more papers for the topic (55) but still with an EOI of more than 70, putting him fifth on the list.

Also on the list are Jennifer Doudna and Samuel Sternberg, who co-wrote A Crack in Creation, a book about their work on the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique and the huge responsibilities it gives scientists due to its potential power to alter DNA.

Top 10 scholars in research into "Genome; RNA, Guide; effector nucleases", 2014 to 2017, by expected output in top 1 per cent of world's most cited publications (world average =1) 

Author Affiliation Scholarly output, 2014 to 2017 Expected output index (EOI)
Zetsche, Bernd Broad Institute 10 90
Sternberg, Samuel H. University of California, Berkeley 11 81.8
Kim, Daesik Seoul National University 13 76.9
Tsai, Shengdar Q. Harvard University 14 71.4
Zhang, Feng Massachusetts Institute of Technology 55 70.9
Weissman, Jonathan S. University of California, San Francisco 10 70
Liu, David R. Harvard University 16 68.8
Doudna, Jennifer A. Howard Hughes Medical Institute 35 68.6
Anderson, Daniel G. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 11 63.6
Nishimasu, Hiroshi University of Tokyo 11 63.6
Source: Elsevier/SciVal

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