In its first-ever assessment of biomedical institutions around the world, based upon published research in a targeted set of high-quality scientific journals, the 2019 Nature Index ranked University of California San Diego ninth among the top 200 institutions in biomedical sciences worldwide.
Among the top 200 academic institutions in biomedical sciences in the world, UC San Diego ranked sixth. Among the top 200 health care institutions worldwide, UC San Diego Health Sciences ranked seventh.
The San Diego branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, comprised of seven leading scientists who are UC San Diego faculty, was ranked 42nd among the top 100 non-profit/non-governmental organizations conducting biomedical science in the world.
The Nature Index findings were published today.
Three-dimensional culture of human breast cancer cells, with DNA stained blue and a protein in the cell surface membrane stained green. Photo credit:
National Institutes of Health
“These new rankings reinforce other third-party endorsements of UC San Diego’s faculty and the quality of its research,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Our biomedical researchers continue to discover solutions to the world’s most pressing health issues. It’s gratifying to see them recognized as preeminent global thought leaders by a leading scientific publication.”
In introducing the new rankings, Catherine Armitage, chief editor of Nature Index, said they chronicle the contributions that biomedical science has made to improving human health and lifespan.
“Biomedical scientists don’t believe in miracles. Instead they put their faith in the accumulation of advances, some big, some small, always building on the work of others, always accompanied by setbacks and disappointments. ...That is the process of progress which raised global average worldwide life expectancy from 52 in 1960 to 72 in 2016.”
Nature Index is a database of researcher affiliations and institutional relationships that monitors and measures scientific output and collaboration, primarily through published work. In this case, the biomedical index draws upon a subset of 55 journals among 82 high-quality natural science journals chosen by an independent group of scientists. The subset represents journals covering 27 areas of biomedical research, spanning a period from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2018.
“Biochemistry and cell biology, and genetics are the biggest fields by article count, but microbiology and biomedical engineering, reaping rewards from CRISPR and the microbiome, are the fastest rising among the top 10 fields of research,” said Armitage.
UC San Diego excels in each of these areas. In addition to uncovering fundamental cellular mechanisms that contribute to inflammation and tumor development, UC San Diego researchers recently developed the first personalized cancer vaccine to be tested in humans; found that women’s gut microbiomes mature earlier than men’s; developed a new version of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technique to correct RNA defects underlying certain muscular dystrophies; launched a new center to advance bacteriophage therapy (leveraging viruses that kill bacteria) as a means to circumvent antibacterial resistance; and created a biometric tool for fingerprinting newborns.
The San Diego branch of Ludwig Cancer Research focuses mainly on cancer genetics, cell signaling, gene regulation and the mechanisms of cell division. In research published earlier this year, for example, UC San Diego School of Medicine scientists discovered that inhibiting a specific protein boosts the sensitivity of brain tumors to therapeutic radiation and found that an errant editing enzyme both promoted loss of a tumor suppressor and spurred leukemia growth.
“Across the board, some of the best and boldest work in biomedicine is being conducted at UC San Diego,” said David Brenner, MD, vice chancellor of health sciences. “The proof is in their peer-reviewed research, which the Index highlights.”
Topping the global 200 institutions in biomedical sciences was Harvard University, followed by the National Institutes of Health and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. UC San Diego was second among California-based institutions after University of California San Francisco (6).
Among the top 200 U.S. academic institutions in biomedical sciences, Harvard was first, followed by Stanford. UC San Francisco was third, with UC San Diego again the second-ranked institution in the state.
Among the top 200 health care institutions worldwide, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center ranked first, followed by Columbia University Irving Medical Center. UC San Diego Health Sciences ranked first in California.
For the entire Nature Index biomedical science rankings, visit