Canada tops cancer research impact list


In response to a growing concern that the United States lags behind several other countries in the number of degrees in science and engineering, legislators have proposed a competitive grant program at the National Science Foundation to reward institutions pledging to increase the number of US citizens or permanent residents obtaining such degrees. The bill’s announcement comes at a time when lawmakers are considering measures to limit the number of foreign students entering the US and to restrict the activities of non-US scientists. Biomedical researchers have long been aware that few US students choose science careers. “My research could not survive without foreign scientists,” says John Moore, an HIV researcher at Cornell University, whose lab consists mainly of non-US nationals. Many scientists say that they receive relatively few applications from American students and, in particular, post-docs who want to join their labs. But recruiting students from other countries may become more difficult. A bill introduced last month in the Senate would ban foreign students from seven countries accused by the State Department of supporting terrorism, namely Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. The bill would also make the process of issuing visas tighter and impose a fee on each visa applicant. (Senator Feinstein, who sponsored the bill, had originally proposed a six-month moratorium on all student visas to the US). In addition to visa restrictions, some foreign nationals might be restricted in the type of research that they can carry out. The anti-terrorism act signed into law by President Bush in late October bans foreigners from ‘rogue’ countries from handling a list of 36 agents that might be used in bioterrorism, which include Ebola virus, Yersinia pestis, botulinum toxin and anthrax. As Nature Medicine went to press, a second bill that would expand exclusion to all aliens admitted to the US under a nonimmigrant visa had passed the House of Representatives but not the Senate. The bill does contain a waiver category for individuals who have expertise valuable to the US, but scientists worry that it may still be too restrictive. “We are very concerned that the initial classification of all aliens as restricted persons may adversely affect legitimate and essential biomedical research, including diagnostic laboratories,” Ronald Atlas from the University of Louisville in Kentucky told the Senate on behalf of the American Society of Microbiology. Many researchers are concerned that, given the dependence of US labs on foreign students and post-docs, any restrictions on their entry to the country or on what areas they can work on would create a strain on the whole research establishment. “If it is harder to get foreign students, the question then is will we have enough scientists?” says Ashok Chopra, a professor of microbiology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston whose own research includes work on anthrax. To increase the number of US students in science, many colleges and universities have implemented programs to expose younger students to research. Chopra says UTMB has several such programs and that they have made a difference over the years. “We are trying our best to recruit home-grown scientists,” says Chopra. Although he adds that they would also not want to miss out on talented students from other countries. Laura Bonetta, Bethesda US plans xenophobic science laws

DOI: 10.1038/nm1201-1261b

Cite this paper

@article{Frantz2001CanadaTC, title={Canada tops cancer research impact list}, author={Simon T Frantz}, journal={Nature Medicine}, year={2001}, volume={7}, pages={1261-1261} }