Pushing the boundaries: UW Medicine’s ‘most influential’ scientists

​Thomson Reuters, a global information agency, identified the world's “most influential scientific minds” — investigators whose scholarly work was most often cited by their fellow researchers over an 11-year span. In brief video interviews, below, 14 such researchers connected to UW Medicine describe their areas of focus and their motivation.

Click to watch William Noble

William Noble, genomics and proteomics

“It wasn’t until I went into the Peace Corps and never picked up my philosophy books but found myself writing computer programs on paper that I realized the thing that I’m really excited about is being able to write code.”

Click to watch Evan Eichler

Evan Eichler, genomics

“My interest in disease stems from my own personal family – having a niece with autism who’s now in her 20s, and for many years not being able to explain why children are born with autism and others are not.”

Click to watch Juidt Villen

Judit Villen, genomics

“Our research looks at the communication system of the cell. … We are trying to push the limits of technology to answer very fundamental questions in biology that are relevant to disease.”

Click to watch Christopher Murray

Christopher Murray, global health

“My parents did medical work in Africa, so I grew up seeing lots of communities that were very poor and had extreme health problems. So I was really interested in understanding what made people so sick in poor places.”

Click to watch Deborah Nickerson

Deborah Nickerson, genomics

“I love science. I mean, it drives me. … We’re really interested in what is the difference in genetic code from one person to another.”

Click to watch Theo Vos

Theo Vos, global health

“After med school, I went to Africa, spent almost 10 years in Lesotho and Zimbabwe, where I worked in district hospitals. … I got a really good sense of what it is to work under difficult circumstances in low-income countries.”

Click to watch Michael Gale

Michael Gale, immunology and virology

“I got interested in infectious disease because my sister got hepatitis A virus. … Since then, my interest turned to viruses: This tiny little piece of genetic material can kill you.”

Click to watch Brian Psaty

Bruce Psaty, medicine and epidemiology

“I’m often a problem-solver, and the problem I’m ‘trying to solve’ is how can we be productive in science? How can we use your tax dollars wisely?”

 
Click to watch Allan Hoffman

Allan Hoffman, bioengineering

“I built the program called biomaterials here. … (It’s) probably one of the best in the world in the whole area of biological materials – synthetic materials for biology.”

Click to watch David Baker

David Baker, biochemistry

“We’re making new vaccines for many different viruses. I think it’s a very exciting time, almost a historical time, for this type of research.”

 
Click to watch Brian Saelens

Brian Saelens, pediatrics and health psychology

“We think that … the tripling of childhood obesity over the past 20 or 30 years isn’t the result of one thing, it’s the result of so many different things, and we have to work in all those settings … to have an impact.”

Click to watch Mohamed Oukka

Mohamed Oukka, pediatrics and immunology

“The Northwest has the highest incidence of multiple sclerosis in the country. … I was really interested in whether the mechanisms that drive MS in kids are the same as in adults.”

 
Click to watch Graham Nichol

Graham Nichol, emergency care

“If we put a blood pressure cuff on someone’s arm or leg when they’re having cardiac arrest or having a heart attack, it appears that repeatedly inflating that blood-pressure cuff will help them. It will reduce the damage.”

Click to watch Mohsen Naghavi

Mohsen Naghavi, global health

“Public health without information is (like) walking in the dark. … I don’t think about my retirement because I love this job. I hope that maybe I die in my office.”