UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

August 2014

We frequently ask ourselves how we can tell if we at University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) and UPMC CancerCenter are making a difference in our campaign against cancer. One way we can judge progress is by the impact of our researchers in their chosen areas of investigation. Ideally a great idea is tested in the lab and/or clinic and those studies lead to a specific conclusion that influences how we think about or approach cancer. Such discoveries are then published in the scientific or medical literature so that others may take advantage of and build on this new knowledge. A measure of success then is the citation of one's work by others as they describe the rationale for and findings about their own work that follows.

We are very proud that several of our population health experts at UPCI have recently been named to the 2014 Thomson Reuters list of the 3,000 most highly cited researchers in the sciences and social sciences in the world. This list was developed by surveying articles and reviews in both science and social sciences journals and identifying which were most frequently cited in papers by others from 2002 to 2012. More than 110,000 such papers ranked by Thomson Reuters as in the top 1 percent by citation for field and year were identified. A researcher was then identified as high impact based on his or her contribution as an author to these most influential papers–authorship of multiple top 1 percent papers was defined as a mark of exceptional impact.

Drs. Cauley, Kuller, and KenslerAmong the 2014 Thomson Reuters Highly Cited investigators are UPCI members Jane A. Cauley, Ph.D., professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Epidemiology, and Lewis H. Kuller, M.D., Dr.P.H., emeritus professor of epidemiology. Both are recognized for their long track record of accomplishment as leaders of large epidemiologic studies about women's health including breast cancer. A third Highly Cited Pitt investigator is Thomas W. Kensler, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and chemical biology and environmental and occupational health who has had a long interest in mechanism-based cancer prevention strategies. Finally, I too had the good fortune to be recognized as a Thomson Reuters Highly Cited investigator as a contributor in the field of biology and treatment of breast cancer during a time when we have made so many advances in the field of targeted therapy.

Of course authorship of highly influential papers is but one metric of success. We also count the grant dollars we bring in to support our work, the number of individuals that we train and educate, our rankings in U.S. News & World Report, and so much more. But the most important metrics are the number of patients and families that we serve, the quality of care we provide, and the individual lives we strive to improve and extend. Our contributions to the slow but steady decrease in cancer mortality in the United States are the most important measure of our success!