UM forensic scientists' studies revered


Research papers by the forensic scientists at the University of Maryland's School of Medicine are among the most frequently cited in the world.

The Institute for Scientific Information says only nine other forensic science teaching and research institutions were named more frequently as sources of study data in nine scientific journals surveyed. The articles were published between 1981 and 1993.

ISI conducted the survey in light of the increased visibility of forensic science due to testimony in the O. J. Simpson trial. Forensic scientists draw on molecular biology, toxicology and other disciplines to form conclusions about evidence gathered at crime scenes.

"I feel pretty proud of the place," said deputy chief medical examiner Dr. Donald G. Wright, second-in-command to Maryland's chief medical examiner, Dr. John E. Smialek. Members of the examiner's staff also hold faculty positions in the medical school's division of forensic pathology, which Dr. Smialek heads.

Dr. Wright said the variety of homicides and other sudden deaths in Maryland may have contributed to the scientific interest in research done here. "We do have a very interesting case load," he said.

In addition, the division has a strong training program for pathologists from other institutions. "We've had a lot of people come through here," he said, adding that they have "made names for themselves" and "must be citing some of our information."

Ranked as the most-frequently cited institution was the University of Mississippi, followed by the University of Miami; the National Institute on Drug Abuse; the U.S. Navy; the University of Arizona and the University of California at San Francisco.

Next were the University of Utah, the State University of Groningen, in the Netherlands; the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the University of Maryland.

The ISI survey also listed Dr. Edward J. Cone of Baltimore as the researcher whose work was cited in more scientific articles (30) than any other forensic expert in the nine journals studied. Dr. Cone is a captain in the U.S. Public Health Service. He is assigned to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions' Bayview Campus.

ISI is a private, Philadelphia-based research company that surveys the bibliographies of research papers published by more than 2,000 scientific journals. The information is used by universities and others for a variety of purposes, including the evaluation of the scientific journals themselves and of the researchers whose work is published in them.

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