USC Faculty Among Most Cited

Four Keck School of Medicine faculty members are among the most influential scientific authors in their fields, according to the Institute for Scientific Information.

Keck School Dean Brian E. Henderson, Institute of Genetic Medicine Director Laurence Kedes, cardiologist Robert A. Kloner and virologist Michael Lai are included in ISI’s Highly Cited Researcher listings released this year.

The Highly Cited Researcher project identifies and honors researchers whose publications have received the highest number of citations by their peers worldwide during the previous two decades.

Twenty-four USC researchers in a variety of disciplines were among those cited by the ISI, including seven from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

Each of the scientists in the Keck School quartet is among the top researchers in one of 21 scientific fields or categories between 1981 and 1999. About 19 million articles and five million authors were included in the database analysis.
Citation is a direct measure of a researcher’s influence on the literature of a subject and contributions to the field.

Henderson and Kloner were included in the ISI’s clinical medicine category, which includes 226 top researchers. Kedes qualified for the molecular biology and genetics category, which includes 254 top researchers. Lai was among the 242 top researchers in the microbiology category.

“Certainly, it’s gratifying that our team is contributing to the body of knowledge in the genetics of complex diseases, both today and in the future,” said Henderson, Distinguished Professor of Preventive Medicine and holder of the Kenneth T. Norris Jr. Chair in Cancer Prevention.

“But having several highly influential scientists on campus also reflects well on the quality of research at the Keck School as a whole.”

Henderson first came to the Keck School in 1970 as an associate professor of pathology. A cancer epidemiologist, he established the Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program at USC in the early 1970s.

Two decades later, he started the Hawaii-Los Angeles Multiethnic Cohort a study that involves more than 215,000 participants and examines the genetics of breast, prostate and colon cancer. He also has served as president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

Henderson is joined on the clinical medicine list by Kloner, professor of medicine in the Keck School and research director at the Heart Institute of the Hospital of the Good Samaritan.

A prolific researcher, Kloner focuses on a wide variety of heart issues. He studies the details behind myocardial ischemia, or insufficient blood flow to part of the heart, which can lead to heart attack if untreated.

Among many other research interests, he also examines how the heart might heal from heart attack, the effect of free radicals in myocardial ischemia and experimental angioplasty devices and coronary stents.

Kloner helped develop several concepts concerning ischemic heart disease including the no-reflow phenomenon, stunned myocardium, ischemic preconditioning in man, hypothermic cardio-protection and cell transplant therapy for heart attacks.

Kloner has been a member of the editorial board of numerous important cardiology journals, as well as several study sections at the National Institutes of Health. He currently is receiving NIH funding for a project that explores the use of stem cells to repair myocardial tissue damaged through heart attack (in a rat model.)

The NIH also is supporting another project in a rat model: a novel strategy to inject immature cells into damaged cardiac tissue as a way to help patients survive until a heart transplant.

“I would like to thank my collaborators, USC and the Heart Institute of Good Samaritan Hospital for the opportunity to explore the pathophysiology and potential therapies for heart disease,” Kloner said. “It is nice to know that someone is paying attention to our work.”

Kloner also collaborates with Kedes, a highly cited researcher in the category of molecular biology and genetics.

Kedes, the William M. Keck Professor of Biochemistry and Medicine in the Keck School, focuses on gene regulation and transcription in both skeletal and cardiac muscle.

He was a pioneer in using DNA technology for gene cloning, and his research was among the first to demonstrate the organization of genes in an animal cell work that enabled researchers to isolate genes whose products are useful in diagnosing and treating human disease.

Kedes today is leading an NIH-sponsored study into why the powerful anti-cancer drug doxorubicin damages the heart an exploration he hopes eventually will lead to ways to protect the heart from the drug’s side effects while patients benefit from the drug’s cancer-fighting power.

“While honors and awards are always rife with the flaws of personal evaluations and recommendations, the ISI citation index is an objective, numerically derived index that reflects, at least in part, the impact that our work has had on the conduct of science by others,” Kedes said.

“In that sense, it is a very nice feeling to know that your work has been appreciated by your peers,” Kedes said.

Like Kedes, Michael Lai is a former HHMI investigator focusing his studies on viruses.

Lai, Distinguished Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology in the Keck School, has conducted pioneering studies on a wide range of RNA viruses and has advanced scientific understanding of RNA virus replication.

Among other studies, he has researched coronaviruses, the family that includes the virus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. He also has focused on the hepatitis C virus, an RNA virus that attacks liver cells, spreads mainly through blood products and intimate sexual contact.

Born in Taiwan, Lai came to USC in 1973 after completing his doctoral and postdoctoral studies in molecular biology at UC Berkeley. He is currently on sabbatical at a research institution in Taiwan.

For more on ISI’s Highly Cited Research project, click here.