The cardiologist and geneticist, who also directs the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI), was ranked No. 17 by the prestigious publication of the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS). The global rankings were based on each individual’s number of Twitter followers and number of scientific journal citations as recorded by the Google Scholar online search engine.
Dr. Topol was listed with 44,800 followers on Twitter and 151,281 citations of publications, more than anyone else in the ranking.
Topping the magazine’s list were astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson with 2.4 million Twitter followers, physicist Brian Cox with 1.4 million followers and biologist Richard Dawkins with over 1 million followers.
The Scripps physician-researcher, who tweets from the handle @EricTopol, has been a leading voice for a number of years in online social networks. His posts address the latest developments in heart care, genomics, wireless health technology, physician training and the future of medicine.
Dr. Topol also uses Twitter to spread the word about research conducted by STSI, which is focused on translating genomic discoveries and innovative wireless health devices and apps into clinical care that can improve patient outcomes and lower the cost of medicine.
Part of Scripps Health, STSI is a unique community collaboration with The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) which is supported by the National Institutes of Health flagship program, Clinical and Translational Science Award. Other collaborators include the San Diego Supercomputer Center.
An article accompanying the Science magazine list noted that some researchers see little value in spending time on online social networks. Even Dr. Topol told the magazine that he once doubted the usefulness of such activities.
However, Dr. Topol said he changed his mind in 2009 when he tried Twitter while attending a TEDMED conference. “It actually may be the most valuable time (I spend) in terms of learning things that are going on in the world of science and medicine,” he said.
Since joining Twitter five years ago, Dr. Topol has posted nearly 5,000 tweets.
The author of the popular book “The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution with Create Better Health Care” also was ranked recently among the “100 Most Influential People in Health Care” by Modern Healthcare magazine’s readers and editors.
Learn more about Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system in San Diego, Calif.