China has launched a concerted effort to bring home top talent from the United States.
For nearly 15 years, china has been trying to engineer a "brain gain" by luring top scientific and technical talent home from the United States, and it's working. One major success story is the National Institute for Biological Sciences, created in 2003 with several advantages. Freed from the fundraising pressures of the U.S.—and from the often mindless red tape of traditional state-run Chinese institutions—researchers there say their lab environment, financed by the Chinese government, trumps what they could expect in America. They know from experience, since all 23 were educated in the U.S. In 2005 Dr. Feng Shao, 37, left Harvard Medical School to return to China after receiving a more generous deal from NIBS, where he now studies bacterial pathogens in a top-class lab, with a $300,000 annual budget. He says that in the U.S., "I might have a lab with just a few students and technicians. Here I have 16 or 17." The bottom line, says Shao, is that while his team has published six scientific papers since 2005, "elsewhere I might have done just two."