Norfolk scientists are world-beaters

Michael Pollitt, agricultural editorScientists in Norfolk are world-beaters - and that's the official verdict of the global research community.Michael Pollitt, agricultural editor

Scientists in Norfolk are world-beaters - and that's the official verdict of the global research community.

Norwich Research Park topped the league table of more than 88,000 institutions around the world, even pushing Cambridge University into 10th place.

Its 2,700 scientists, including researchers at the University of East Anglia, published the most influential papers in plant and animal science in the past 10 years and were cited more than 42,000 times in other research papers.

And in the centenary year of the John Innes Centre (JIC), at Colney, its scientific findings were ranked significantly higher than any other organisation in the world.


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Researchers at the John Innes and the Sainsbury Laboratory published in 1,134 scientific journals in the decade to December 2009.

Prof Douglas Kell, chief executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, said: 'This is a ringing endorsement of the world-class science carried out at BBSRC Institutes.'

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Norwich Research Park's measure of scientific success was an average 37.5 citations per paper - streets ahead of the nearest rival in Japan with 27.5, while Cambridge, which was in 10th place, logged 13.3. A leading German institution was third and America's University of California at San Diego was in fourth place.

'This is a great accolade for the JIC and Sainsbury Laboratory, and it's great news for the Norwich Research Park and UK science in general,' said Prof Michael Bevan, acting director of the JIC.

'It's a mark of the research done by our scientists that we have managed to get so many highly-regarded papers published in top journals. It's a real testament to the quality of science here and the fantastic support and resources we have in Norwich,' added Prof Bevan.

The UEA's Prof Trevor Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research: 'This tremendous accolade for the John Innes Centre and the Sainsbury Laboratory really does show that Norwich punches well above its weight in scientific excellence, coming as it does on the heels of a similar exercise which places the University third in the world for the geosciences.

'The importance to the region's economy of having such a strong concentration of top-flight scientists on the Norwich Research Park cannot be overstated,' he added.

The John Innes, which leads in plant and microbial sciences, has around 500 staff and works closely with colleagues from the neighbouring Institute of Food Research, which was judged the world's second best for agricultural and food research last year.

'In the past 22 years, the Sainsbury Lab has made outstanding contributions to understanding plant immunity and how pathogens overcome it, as well as to the discovery of mechanisms of gene silencing,' said Prof Sophien Kamoun, head of the Sainsbury Laboratory.

The findings were calculated from Essential Science Indicators of Thomson Reuters, which listed original research reports and review articles.

This ranking assessed 88,740 institutions and assessments were based on the influence of papers, not simply the total published output.

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