William S. Harris, PhD, FASN, founder of OmegaQuant (Sioux Falls, SD), and president of the newly formed Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI), has been ranked in the top 2 percent of scientists worldwide. In this exhaustive list of nearly 160,000 scientists, Harris landed at 2,164 for his overall scientific impact. “Impact” was essentially defined as the number of times other researchers referred back in their papers, or “cited,” the published work of a given scientist.
For this study, Stanford University (California) researchers analyzed data from the mid-1990s through 2019, covering millions of scientists worldwide in all fields of science. The study created a public database of standardized citation metrics for the top scientists in the world classified into 22 scientific fields and 176 sub-fields. These findings were published in PLOS Biology.
In the fatty acid field specifically, Harris is in good company, with fellow researchers Philip Calder, PhD (University of South Hampton, U.K.), and Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH (Tufts University, Massachusetts), ranking at 250 and 502, respectively.
Harris has been researching fatty acids for more than 40 years and to date has published more than 300 papers on these nutrients. Since co-inventing the Omega-3 Index in 2004, it has been used by him and many others in hundreds of other research papers. “We continue to build the evidence base for the importance of the Omega-3 Index in human health by working with some of the most prestigious research institutions in the world,” Harris said. “To date, we’ve worked with more than 100 of them including Harvard, Tufts, Columbia, Stanford, Oxford, and even the U.S. Army.”
In late 2020, Harris founded FARI, a non-profit research and education foundation that will focus single-mindedly on publishing high-quality research studies on the multiple relationships between fatty acid levels and human (and animal) health outcomes. “These studies will improve our ability to predict risk for disease, and more importantly, suggest ways to reduce risk by changing our diets and/or supplementation regimens,” he explained.
Reflecting on how he achieved this level of success in science, Harris commented, “I was extremely lucky! At the very beginning of my career in the late 1970s, my mentor (Dr. Bill Connor, 8,441 on the list) assigned me to study the effects of salmon oil on serum cholesterol levels. That was my introduction to omega-3 fatty acids, and largely because of the truly pioneering work of Jorn Dyerberg (35,635 on the list) in Greenland Inuits, the omega-3 field began to explode in the 1980s. I have simply ridden this horse since then and don’t plan to get off until they drag me off the saddle!”
He further noted, “This achievement is also a testimony to how important the identification of a biomarker like the Omega-3 Index was (and continues to be) as a stimulus to expanding research and publications in this field.”