Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Updated: November 4, 2020 3:24:12 pm

A new Stanford University report has ranked more than 10 scientists and doctors from Pune among the top 2 per cent in their field globally. Across the country, over 1,000 have made it to the list that ranks the top 2 per cent scientists worldwide.

In the field of health sciences, the key doctors from Pune include Dr Sundeep Salvi and Dr C S Yajnik. They rank among the top 1 per cent in their respective fields of respiratory medicine and diabetes, according to a new report released by scientists from Stanford University. The report has been published in PLOS Biology.

Noted scientists, including Dr R A Mashelkar, who pioneered Gandhian engineering; Dr Vidya Arankalle, former director grade scientists at National Institute of Virology; UGC Vice-Chairman Dr Bhushan Patwardhan; theoretical physicists Dr T Padmanabhan and Dr Naresh Dadich from IUCAA; and others from various institutions in Pune are in the list.

The database was created by experts at Stanford University led by Dr John Ioannidis. It has been created on the basis of standardised citation indicators, such as information on citations, h-index, co-authorship, and a composite indicator.

There is no large-scale database that systematically ranks all the most cited scientists in each and every scientific field to a sufficient ranking depth. For instance, Google scholar allows scientists to create their profiles and share them in public, but not all researchers have created a profile, according to the report.

Scopus is a database that ranks journals and gives a citation index and Dr John’s database has referred largely to this resource. It is based on number of research papers published, number of times an expert is cited and the h-index (a rough measure of the scientist’s standing in the scientific community).

A majority of the top scientists in the country are from IITs, IISc and others and from the field of physics, material sciences, chemical engineering, plant biology, energy, and so on. In the field of respiratory medicine, from among 5,000-odd doctors globally, there are four who have ranked among the top 2 per cent, including Dr Ritesh Agarwal, Dr Sundeep Salvi, Dr Surinder Jindal and Dr Zarir Udwadia.

Dr Salvi, whose h-index is 48 and is ranked in the top 1 per cent of all global scientists in the field of respiratory medicine, said he was happy that his contribution has helped place Pune on the world map of lung research.

He said their major contribution to the world has been in the field of non-smoking chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is the third leading cause of death in the world. “It was thought to be caused by tobacco smoking, but we challenged the concept and showed that air pollution was the leading cause of COPD in India,” said Dr Salvi, who was also the chair of chronic respiratory disease for Global Burden of Disease Study in India. He showed that 80 per cent COPD in India had non-smoking causes.

Dr C S Yajnik said he is yet to digest this rank that has placed him in the top 1 per cent globally in the field of diabetes. Dr Yajnik from KEM Hopsital and Research Centre is known for his work on the topic of the ‘thin-fat’ Indian, which explains that though not obese by international criteria, Indians have high body fat per cent. He specialises in intrauterine programming of diabetes and has demonstrated a possible role for maternal micronutrient nutrition in its aetiology.

Dr Bhushan Patwardhan, who is the vice-chairman of University Grants Commission, is also ranked among the top 2 per cent globally in the field of medicine and biomolecular chemistry and said he was happy that so many Indians figured in the list.

Dr Patwardhan, who is also actively engaged in evidence-based Ayurveda, said each specialty is unique and we need a lot more people to contribute.

Dr Udwadia, who is a reputed pulmonologist and first in India to report on totally drug-resistant tuberculosis, is a consultant chest physician at Hinduja Hospital and Research Centre at Mumbai. He said he was pleasantly surprised as he is more a clinician than a pure researcher.