Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Terrific scientists, missing cats and conservatives with feathers
Well, at least there are no emergencies in dermatology--So who are the country’s tops clinical scientists? How the hell can we tell? One way is to keep track of whose papers are cited the most. If you write a paper and no one cares enough to cite it—and scientists will throw in all kinds of citations to make their papers look authoritative—you might consider a career change. But if you publish it and they come in droves.… According to the ISI Essential Science Indicators, the numero uno of the clinical set over the last 10 years is Meir Stampfer, chair of the department of immunology at Harvard. He has published 376 papers cited a total of 30,739 times. His speciality is the etiology of chronic diseases and has done work on breast cancer, prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease. Harvard takes second place too, with Walter Willett (516 papers, 29,311 citations), a specialist in diabetes, among other things. Then comes Bert Vogelstein at Johns Hopkins (118 papers, 25,516 citations), who works on the genetics of cancer, especially colorectal. Another Hopkins researcher, Kenneth Kinzler comes next (105 papers, 24,310 citations). He also works on the genetics of cancer. Then there is Charles Hennekens at the University of Miami (aspirin in cardiovascular disease); John C. Reed at the Burnham Institute in La Jolla (aptosis); Graham Colditz, Harvard (breast cancer); the Cleveland Clinic’s Eric Topol (cardiovascular disease, and Robert Califf at Duke (cardiovascular disease). You can see where the action is these days.
No column is complete without at least one cuddly animal—For those of you keeping score on the extinction list, the very rare—like 60 in the whole world—Asiatic cheetah has been spotted and photographed in Iran. Using a remote camera, Wildlife Conservation Society scientists, along with colleagues from the Iran Department of Environment (yes, they have one) photographed a mother and four cubs in the Dar-e Anjir Wildlife Refuge (yes, they have one). They were lounging under the shade of a tree. The species once ranged from the Red Sea to India but now there are only a few dozen left in the wild, mostly in Iran. They are extinct elsewhere.
Neoconservative penguins point to American politicians as role models if you don’t mind skin instead of feathers—Conservatives are weird. Down below, we did a small piece on the French documentary, The March of the Penguins, which incidentally is the second highest-grossing documentary ever. Only Michael Moore beat the birds. We pointed out it was beautifully photographed under extraordinary conditions, and is good fun if you manage to ignore that it glosses over a good bit of nature. It turns out that according to the New York Times, conservative and religious groups have embraced the film and the penguins as role models—if don’t mind feathers instead of skin. They are monogamous (to a fault), are supposed to be good examples of the truth of Intelligent Design (bosh), and they are passionate about child rearing (oh boy, are they). Conservative film critic and court Jew Michael Medved (I’m allowed to say that) called the film passionately affirming. Of course the producers, no fools they, managed to avoid such touchy topics as evolution and global warming, and turned their cameras away when the cute little critters were providing lunch by the thousands for attacking skuas, or being dragged off the ice by leopard seals, and to the best of our knowledge, none are Christians, but if Medved’s affirmed, does it matter? "In the harshest place on earth, love finds a way." Still, go see it.