research-intensive graduate and postdoctoral training. Masters degree programs would not only be more appropriate but also be preferable to the PhD for this type of employment and these students.
We recommend that universities identify specific areas of the biological and biomedical sciences for which Master's level training is more appropriate, more efficient and less costly than PhD training. We recommend that focused Master's Programs be established in those areas.
A vigorous master's-degree program that produces highly skilled laboratory technicians for industry, government, and academe could potentially contribute to righting the imbalance between PhD training and the labor market. When the committee recommended constraint in further growth in training in recommendation 1, it was fully aware that graduate students are needed in the labor-intensive life-science research enterprise and to teach undergraduates. One way to resolve this dilemma is to effect a modest shift toward a more permanent laboratory workforce by replacing some fraction of the existing training positions with permanent employees such as MSc-level technicians and PhD-level research associates.
This report has documented that the majority of the recent increase in the number of PhD trainees and postdoctoral fellows are foreign nationals, not US citizens. The number of foreign nationals reflects the international nature of modern science and the central place that the US plays in this international arena. Furthermore, foreign nationals have traditionally contributed to the excellence of US science, as suggested by the fact that of the 732 members of the National Academy of Sciences who are life scientists, 21.2% are foreign born and 12.4% obtained their PhD training abroad. Foreign nationals' important contributions to US scientific leadership is reflected in their representation as department chairs (25%) and their inclusion as "outstanding authors" in life sciences (26.4%). Foreign students and fellows are welcome participants in the research enterprise, provided they are of high quality and competitive with American applicants.
We believe it would be unwise to place arbitrary limitations on the number of visas issued for foreign students. But we do not believe that US institutions should continue to enroll unlimited numbers of foreign nationals. As decisions are made on ways to constrain further growth, the measures adopted should apply equally to all students regardless of nationality.
If, as we hope, implementation of our recommendations results in constraining further growth in PhDs awarded in the life sciences, we urge our colleagues on graduate admissions committees to resist the temptation to respond by simply increasing the number of foreign applicants admitted.
This report has documented several dramatic changes in career trends in the life sciences over the last several decades. The rapid growth in the academic scientific establishment in the 1960s and the early 1970s set in place a training infrastructure that was built on the premise that there would be continued growth. When the inevitable slowdown in resources to support that growth occurred, it was not accompanied by a commensurate adjustment in the rate of training. The impact of the imbalance between the number of aspirants and the research opportunities is now being felt by a generation of scientists trained in the last 10 years who are finding it increasingly difficult to find permanent positions in which