American Univesity of Beirut

Akl and Shihadeh recognized for most highly cited research worldwide

​​Safa Jafari Safa,, Office of Communications

Two of AUB’s faculty members have been selected among an elite group recognized for exceptional research performance demonstrated by the production of multiple highly cited papers that rank in the top 1% by citations for field and year in Web of Science, the world’s largest publisher-neutral citation index. Dean of the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture Alan Shihadeh and Professor of Medicine Elie Akl join a list of world-class researchers acknowledged by their peers for the influence of their research contributions in their publications and citations.

Selected for their outstanding research output during the last decade, the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers represent one in 1,000 of the world population of scientists and social scientists. Researchers are selected for their exceptional performance in one or more of 21 fields (those used in Essential Science Indicators). 

“It is truly an honor to recognize researchers like yourself for your dedication, focus, and tireless work towards the advancement of scientific discovery and innovation,” stated an announcement issued by Clarivate Analytics congratulating the scholars. “You’re now part of an exclusive group of researchers who earn this distinction and you will always retain your Highly Cited Researcher status.

“The 2018 Highly Cited Researchers from Clarivate Analytics is a contribution to the identification of that small fraction of the researcher population that contributes disproportionately to extending the frontier and gaining for society knowledge and innovations that make the world healthier, richer, sustainable, and more secure.”

Health research methodology
Dr. Elie Akl is a professor of medicine at AUB who leads the division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics at AUBMC. He also directs the Clinical Research Institute and the AUB GRADE Center, and co-directs the Center for Systematic Reviews on Health Policy and Systems Research (SPARK). His research expertise is in systematic reviews, practice guidelines, and conflicts of interest in the field of health research methodology. He serves as a guideline methodologist for a number of North American professional organizations and the World Health Organization. He published more than 300 peer-reviewed papers and was listed by Thomson Reuters as one of the 2015 "world’s most influential scientific minds" and as one of the “Highly Cited Researchers” in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

The AUB GRADE Center team is leading in the methods of adapting guidelines and the concept of living guidelines and living systematic reviews, which they are spearheading on the international level, and is being commissioned by North American organizations to contribute to the development of their clinical practice guidelines. 

“I am particularly glad because this recognition is based on the body of research that has been published over a period of 10 years ending in 2016, so it reflects to a substantial extent the work that I have conducted at AUB since I joined in 2012,” said Dr. Akl. “This is one of the reasons I highly appreciate the research environment and the support I have received at AUB in general, and the Faculty of Medicine in particular. Also, I feel very grateful for those who have helped me achieve this recognition: exceptional mentors I have been lucky to have, great collaborators at AUB, and the many wonderful young scientists I have had the luck to mentor and work with since I joined AUB. I would also like to mention the wonderful support I’ve had from my family in spite of all challenges.” 

Towards tobacco control
In addition to being dean, Dr. Alan Shihadeh is a director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products, founding director of the Aerosol Research Laboratory at AUB―a leading center for the study of electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products that develops and exports scientific instruments to research laboratories in North America, Europe, and the Middle East―and co-director of the Collaborative for the Study of Inhaled Atmospheric Aerosols (CARS). Advisor to the World Health Organization, he studies the chemistry, physics, and effects of airborne particle pollutants, with an emphasis on tobacco-related aerosols. Researchers worldwide use instruments and methods Shihadeh and his team developed to study tobacco smoke.

Shihadeh has authored or co-authored more than 100 refereed journal publications, reports, and conference abstracts. His pioneering research has been highly cited—with 12 papers considered in the top 1%―particularly on toxicant exposure from electronic cigarettes and waterpipe tobacco smoke (WTS). 

Using a technology and a procedure he developed that later became known as the “Beirut Method,” Shihadeh initiated the first systematic studies of WTS toxicant emissions.  His findings prompted municipal and regional authorities to regulate indoor WTS, and the issuance of policy advisories by public health agencies, including an International Advisory by the WHO in 2005 and 2015. The methods and devices he developed to study WTS and user puff topography were adopted widely by research labs in the USA, Europe, and Southwest Asia to study WTS.  In the past four years, he has turned attention to investigating the determinants, effects, and potential regulatory levers over ECIG aerosol toxicant emissions, using rigorous engineering methods. 

“I am fortunate to have been picked out for this distinction,” said Dr. Shihadeh. “In my view AUB has many stellar scientists whose accomplishments well exceed my own.  I take this as a small sign of AUB’s upward trajectory in the world of research, particularly that which makes a difference in the lives of the people of this troubled region.”

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