Annual rankings recognize scientists with greatest influence in their fields based on number of patents and citations
By Lindsay Brownell
(BOSTON) — Every year, the journal Nature Biotechnology releases a list of the top 20 translational researchers recognizing scientists for making their research available to the world via patents in addition to publications. Its 2020 list, released earlier this month, includes three Wyss Institute Core Faculty members: George Church, Ph.D., Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., and David Weitz, Ph.D.
The list is compiled by considering the total number of patents granted to individual scientists for the year, as well as the top-cited patent over the previous five-year period and each researcher’s h-index (a measurement of the impact of their published work based on their most-cited papers and the number of times they have been cited in other publications).
The Wyss Institute’s unique organizational model encourages its members to take scientific risks, tackle difficult problems, and translate their discoveries in the lab into products that offer valuable solutions with real-world impact. Since its inception in 2009, members of the Institute have filed a total of 3,660 patents, and technologies developed at the Institute have been licensed to 100 times and launched more than 50 startup companies to commercialize these innovations..
Church, who was granted 23 patents in 2020, is a pioneer in genome engineering and synthetic biology. His lab has spawned numerous technologies and techniques for reading, editing, and writing genetic codes, and is applying them to solve problems ranging from aging to organ transplants to de-extinction. He is also a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and MIT.
Ingber was granted 15 patents in 2020. His early work elucidating the importance of mechanical forces for cell function led to his creation of human organs-on-chips, which have been shown to mimic human organ function more accurately than animal models or human organoids. In addition to continuing to develop organs-on-chips, his eclectic lab also works on identifying and creating compounds to induce biostasis and treat neurological disorders, as well as develop new multiplexed sensing technologies to rapidly diagnose disease. He is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at HMS and Boston Children’s Hospital, and Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).
Weitz also received 15 patents in 2020, and focuses on soft matter physics, materials science and biotechnology. His patent “Scale-up of Microfluidic Devices” is the seventh-most-cited patent on this year’s list, reflecting the potential of his work to enable the formulation of new materials on many different length scales for applications from diagnostics to cell therapy. He is also the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at SEAS.
In addition, this week 12 Wyss Institute faculty members were named to Clarivate’s 2021 Highly Cited Researchers list:
- Joanna Aizenberg, Ph.D. – Cross-Field
- Christopher Chen, M.D., Ph.D. – Cross-Field
- George Church, Ph.D. – Biology and Biochemistry
- Jim Collins, Ph.D. – Biology and Biochemistry AND Molecular Biology and Genetics
- Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D. – Biology and Biochemistry
- Jennifer Lewis, Sc.D. – Cross-Field
- Samir Mitragotri, Ph.D. – Pharmacology and Toxicology
- Dave Mooney, Ph.D. – Cross-Field
- David Weitz, Ph.D. – Cross-Field
- George Whitesides, Ph.D. – Cross-Field
- Rob Wood, Ph.D. – Engineering
- Peng Yin, Ph.D. – Biology and Biochemistry
Each year, Clarivate™ identifies the researchers who have been most frequently cited by their peers over the last decade. In 2021, fewer than 6,700, or about 0.1%, of the world’s researchers, earned that distinction based on their production of multiple highly-cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year in the Web of Science™.
“The Wyss Institute has been able to bridge the gap between academia and industry by coupling the blue-skies approach of basic research with a novel model for technology innovation and de-risking, while overlaying a strategic business development approach to help transition our most innovative and impactful discoveries out of the lab and into the real world as quickly as possible. The annual inclusion of so many of our faculty members in these lists of highest achievement on the basis of patents as well as papers is a testament to the success of our model for driving disruptive innovation and translation, and thereby changing the world for the better through science and engineering,” said Ingber.