CRISPR CAS9 is the latest revolutionary gene editing technology to take the world by a storm. Pakistan is among a select group of nations where scientists are publishing their work on CRISPR in international journals. In fact, Brazil, China, India, Iran and Pakistan are the only developing nations listed among the countries where scientists published CRISPR research in 2018. The rest of the list is made up of highly developed countries of North America, Europe and East Asia. A quick Google search revealed several CRISP papers authored by Pakistani scientists.
|CRISPR Gene Editing Papers Published in 2018. Source: Science Magazine|
What is CRISPR/CAS?
CRISPR CAS9 (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats- CRISPR associated protein 9) technology was developed by Dr. Jennifer Doudna of UC Berkeley. She has recently won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2020 for her discovery. This gene editing technology has been adapted from the natural defense mechanisms of bacteria which use CRISPR-derived RNA and various CAS proteins, including CAS9, to foil attacks by viruses and other foreign bodies. They do so primarily by cutting up and destroying the DNA of a foreign invader. When some of these chopped up components are selectively transferred into other, more complex, organisms, the manipulation of genes, or "gene editing" is enabled.
Pakistan is among a select group of nations where scientists are publishing their work on it. In fact, Brazil, China, India, Iran and Pakistan are the only developing nations listed among the countries where scientists published CRISPR research in 2018. The rest of the list is made up of countries from North America, Europe and East Asia. A quick Google search revealed several CRISP papers authored by Pakistani scientists.
CRISPR-CAS9 technology is raising serious fears about humans manipulating the genetic code, and those manipulations get passed on from one generation to the next. Such genetic changes could lead to antibiotic resistance or other mutations that spread into the human population and become very difficult to control.
On the other hand, the technology could have a range of major positive impacts from treatment for serious human diseases such as cancer and designing new plant varieties to increase food production.
There is obviously a need to regulate the use of this technology to prevent the worst consequences of its misuse.
Stanford's Top 2% Scientists List:
Stanford University has ranked 243 Pakistani scientists among the world's top 2% scientists for 2019. Among them are 81 Pakistani professors who are recognized in the lifetime research work list of 160,000 scientists. The list of the top 2% of the world's scientists has been created by experts from Stanford University based on data from Elsevier’s Scopus, the abstract and citation database. It covers 22 scientific fields and 176 subfields and provides standardized information on citations, h-index, co-authorship-adjusted hm-index, citations to papers in different authorship positions, and a composite indicator.
|Pakistani Professors on Stanford List|
Highly Cited Researchers (HCR):
Last year, Clarivate Analytics listed 6 Pakistani and 10 Indian researchers in its list of the world's 4000 most highly cited researchers (HCR). It included 12 Iranians and no Bangladeshis and no Sri Lankans. This Highly Cited Researchers list included 17 Nobel Laureates. It represented more than 60 nations, but more than 80% of them were from the 10 nations and 70% from the first five – a remarkable concentration of top talent. Here are the top 10 nations in order: United States, United Kingdom, China, Germany, Australia, Netherlands, Canada, France, Switzerland and Spain.
|Most Highly Cited Pakistani Scientists. Source: Clarivate Analytics|
The United States led among HCRs with 2,639 scientists followed by the United Kingdom's 546 and China's 482. Top three institutions producing world's most highly cited researchers were: Harvard University (186), National Institutes of Health (148) and Stanford University (100). Chinese Academy of Sciences ranks 4th with 99 highly cited researchers.
|CRISPR-related papers published in 2018. Source: Science Magazine|
Research Output Growth:
Pakistan is one of the world's top two countries where the research output rose the fastest in 2018, according to Nature Magazine. The publication reports that the "global production of scientific papers hit an all-time high this year...with emerging economies rising fastest".
|Countries With Biggest Rises in Research Output. Source: Nature|
Pakistan ranked first or second depending on whether one accepts the text or the graphic (above) published by Nature. The text says Egypt had 21% growth while the graph shows Pakistan with 21% growth. Here's an excerpt of the text: "Emerging economies showed some of the largest increases in research output in 2018, according to estimates from the publishing-services company Clarivate Analytics. Egypt and Pakistan topped the list in percentage terms, with rises of 21% and 15.9%, respectively. ...China’s publications rose by about 15%, and India, Brazil, Mexico and Iran all saw their output grow by more than 8% compared with 2017".
Pakistan's quality-adjusted scientific output (Weighted Functional Count) as reported in Nature Index has doubled from 18.03 in 2013 to 37.28 in 2017. Pakistan's global ranking has improved from 53 in 2013 to 40 in 2017. In the same period, India's WFC has increased from 850.97 in 2013 to 935.44 in 2017. India's global ranking has improved from 13 in 2013 to 11 in 2017.
|Top 10 Pakistan Institutions in Scientific Output. Source: Nature Index|
Pakistan's Global Ranking:
Pakistan ranks 40 among 161 countries for quality adjusted scientific output for year 2017 as reported by Nature Index 2018. Pakistan ranks 40 with quality-adjusted scientific output of 37.28. India ranks 11 with 935. Malaysia ranks 61 with 6.73 and Indonesia ranks 63 with 6.41. Bangladesh ranks 100 with 0.81. Sri Lanka ranks 84 with 1.36. US leads with almost 15,800, followed by China's 7,500, Germany 3,800, UK 3,100 and Japan 2,700.
The Nature Index is a database of author affiliation information collated from research articles published in an independently selected group of 82 high-quality science journals. The database is compiled by Nature Research. The Nature Index provides a close to real-time proxy of high-quality research output and collaboration at the institutional, national and regional level.
The Nature Index includes primary research articles published in a group of high-quality science journals. The journals included in the Nature Index are selected by a panel of active scientists, independently of Nature Research. The selection process reflects researchers’ perceptions of journal quality, rather than using quantitative measures such as Impact Factor. It is intended that the list of journals amounts to a reasonably consensual upper echelon of journals in the natural sciences and includes both multidisciplinary journals and some of the most highly selective journals within the main disciplines of the natural sciences. The journals included in the Nature Index represent less than 1% of the journals covering natural sciences in the Web of Science (Clarivate Analytics) but account for close to 30% of total citations to natural science journals.
Pakistan vs BRICS:
In a report titled "Pakistan: Another BRIC in the Wall", author Lulian Herciu says that Pakistan’s scientific productivity has quadrupled, from approximately 2,000 articles per year in 2006 to more than 9,000 articles in 2015. During this time, the number of Highly Cited Papers featuring Pakistan-based authors increased tenfold, from 9 articles in 2006 to 98 in 2015.
Top Asian Universities:
In terms of the number of universities ranking in Asia's top 500, Pakistan with its 23 universities ranks second in South Asia and 7th among 17 Asian nations topped by China with 112, Japan 89, India 75, South Korea 57, Taiwan 36, Malaysia 26, Pakistan 23, Indonesia 22, Thailand 19, Philippines 8, Hong Kong 7, Vietnam 7, Bangladesh 6, Sri Lanka 4, Singapore 3, Macao 2 and Brunei 2.
Pakistan is among a select group of nations where scientists are publishing their work in international journals. In fact, Brazil, China, India, Iran and Pakistan are the only developing nations listed among the countries where scientists published CRISPR research in 2018. The rest of the list is made up of countries from North America, Europe and East Asia. A quick Google search revealed several CRISP papers authored by Pakistani scientists. Stanford University has ranked 243 Pakistani scientists among the world's top 2% scientists for 2019. Among them are 81 Pakistani professors who are recognized in the lifetime research work list of 160,000 scientists. Last year Clarivate Analytics listed 6 Pakistani and 10 Indian researchers in its list of the world's 4000 most highly cited researchers (HCR). There were 12 Iranians and no Bangladeshis and no Sri Lankans on it. Pakistan is among the world's top two countries where the research output rose the fastest in 2018. Pakistan's quality-adjusted scientific output (WFC) as reported in Nature Index has doubled from 18.03 in 2013 to 37.28 in 2017.
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