Text mining top 50 papers reveals hottest 2016 stem cell trends

What are the hottest stem cell trends in the field today?

Depends who you ask, right?

One impartial way to look at stem cell trends is through the lens of publication citations and the focuses of top stem cell papers. In that perhaps somewhat skewed, but interesting approach, the words used in the titles of the 50 most cited research publications of 2016 with the phrases “stem cell(s)” in their titles should tell us something interesting.


Fortunately publication citation platforms these days like ISI may it a snap to collect such data with a few tricks. Then I plugged the data into a word cloud generator and ta-da I got the image above.

Cancer is the biggest word. Apparently cancer stem cells are hot in 2016, along with studies specifically on human stem cells with “human” as the second biggest word.

Both hematopoietic and pluripotent stem cells remain top topics. There is also an apparent trend toward transplantation, which is key for the field to make impact. Mesenchymal and neural stem cell studies are getting a lot of citations too.

You can dig around in the cloud for your favorite other words.


I’ve also pasted the data on the top 10 most cited stem cell papers of 2016 above, which are interesting in a number of ways.

The #1 pub by citations perhaps not surprisingly brings together stem cells with gene editing. The journal Cell Stem Cell has three of the top 10 spots. It’s notable that the #10 paper was published in the journal Carbon, which I have never heard of before. It is on 3-D scaffolds for growing stem cells, a very cool area of research. #2 is that “get rid of senescent cells to fight aging” paper. #3 is on Zika. #7 is on making germ cells.

One obvious bias in this kind of analysis is that it will favor papers published earlier in the year that have had the time to get more citations, but it still paints an interesting overall picture of where the field has been headed in 2016 and where it may go in 2017.

What were your favorite stem cell papers of 2016?

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