Nobel Prize predictions published

Citation analysis reveals potential winners of science’s highest accolade

September 26, 2016

A list of researchers tipped to win the 2016 Noble Prizes has been published.

The work, by Thomson Reuters, looks at the citations of scholars to highlight those whose work has the most influence. This year it features 24 scientists from five different countries who, they say, are likely to be noticed by the Nobel committee.

The system has successfully predicted 39 Nobel prizewinners since 2002. But not all prizes were won in the year they were predicted.

Each year three possible winners are predicted for the physiology or medicine, physics, chemistry and economics prizes ahead of the official Nobel Prize announcements.

Possible candidates for this year’s chemistry prize include George Church, of Harvard Medical School, and Feng Zhang, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for the application of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing in mouse and human cells. The patent rights to this are currently subject to a battle at the US Patent and Trademark Office.

As usual, researchers from universities in the US dominate the list. More than 15 of the 24 researchers work at US institutions.

Five researchers based at Harvard University are listed as potential winners, with its Medical School alone providing two of the top-cited candidates in the physiology or medicine and chemistry categories. MIT is home to four of the hotly tipped academics.

Only one academic at a UK university features on the list – Brazilian Celso Grebogi, a professor at the University of Aberdeen’s Institute for Complex Systems and Mathematical Biology. He is earmarked as a potential winner for the physics prize alongside two others from the University of Maryland, College Park for their work describing a control theory of chaotic systems, known as the OGY method.

Just one other academic at a European university features on the list, Michael Hall, from the University of Basel in Switzerland, who is flagged up in the physiology or medicine category with two others for discoveries in the field of cell growth.

Three academics working at Asian institutions are listed, two from Japan and one from Hong Kong.

Last year, Thomson Reuters’ analysts successfully predicted two Nobel prizewinners. These were Arthur McDonald of Queen’s University in Canada, who won the prize for physics alongside Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo, Japan, for the discovery of neutrino oscillations. The other was Angus Deaton, a Scottish academic working at Princeton University, who won the economics prize for his analysis of consumption, poverty and welfare.

The 2016 Nobel Prize announcements begin on Monday 3 October.

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