undergraduate and graduate curricula of many universities than it would otherwise be because it does not have departmental status at most institutions. Not being or being in a discipline with departmental status, immunology and immunologists are unevenly distributed in the totality of US academic institutions. Entrepreneurial and clinical efforts in immunology largely have the same uneven distribution.
Excellent research in immunology is conducted throughout the world. Researchers are part of a tightly knit and highly collaborative international community and hence, immunology as a discipline has become an international effort. International collaboration in the different subfields of immunology has facilitated exchanges in information that have enabled exciting breakthroughs to be made. Factors that have contributed to international collaboration have been the training of young scientists from around the world in graduate institutions in the United States, training of young US scientists in foreign immunology centers, internationally attended scientific conferences, the increasing facility of electronic forms of communication, and the use of English as the standard tongue of communication.
Immunology is an essentially multidisciplinary field, and immunological research overlaps with many other disciplines, including molecular and cellular biology, genetics, and biochemistry. Immunology serves as a foundation for the design and testing of varied biologic hypotheses. Therefore, this benchmarking assessment will be valuable not only to the field of immunology, but also to other biological disciplines. Conversely, although this is a definitive strength of this report, it must be noted that it was sometimes difficult to identify and characterize specific attributes that apply solely to immunology.
Additional caveats apply to the method used in this analysis. Given the lack of quantitative data that can be compared on an international basis, the panel used a number of techniques and, looked at the degree to which the results conformed to develop its conclusions. The panel was not able to assess this question in an objective way, but it used the expertise and judgment of its members and the limited information and data available to develop its conclusions. More details on the methods and the limitations of each are provided in Chapter 2.
The panel was asked to conduct a comparative international assessment to answer three questions:
What is the position of the US research in the field relative to the research performed in other regions or countries?
What key factors influence the US performance in the field?
On the basis of current trends in the United States and abroad, what will be the future relative position of the United States in the field in the near term and the longer term?