pediatrics, and surgery with both a full clinical background and a basic-research background in immunology and related fields.

The current apparent eminence of US-based immunologists should not be taken as leadership in all aspects of training and immunology research, however. As shown in Table 3.1, important research in immunology rewarded by Nobel Prizes has been carried out by 16 laureates, 12 of whom were not US citizens (though some now conduct their research in the United States).

3.2 Human Resources

Its flexibility, diversity, and freedom to originate new approaches has made the United States a very attractive environment for talented researchers from other countries. This has given US research institutions a greater ability than foreign institutions to attract graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from other countries.

The flexibility of funding based primarily on peer review and the merit of applications have made the United States a more attractive country for talented researchers at higher ranks to settle and pursue their research careers. There is a much greater flow of foreign researchers into the United States than the opposite direction because of the lack of barriers (other than language) in the United States.

The US secondary-education system has numerous deficiencies. However, the flexibility allows students particularly talented students to obtain research experience in their own institutions and through summer programs, such as those at the Jackson Laboratories and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories. Despite those excellent opportunities at the predoctoral level for a small subset of students, the percentage of doctorate recipients with US citizenship in the combined fields of immunology, microbiology, and virology has decreased from 88.0% in 1980 to 77.9% in 1995. This drop of 11.5% in the proportion of recipients with US citizenship is not as steep as the drop of 22.1% in all the life sciences combined (82.4% in 1980 to 64.2% in 1995). The percentage of foreign doctorate recipients in immunology that were planning to obtain postdoctoral fellowships has increased from 7.0% in 1976-1985 to 13.0% in 1986-19961.

3.3 Infrastructure

The United States has been fortunate in the development of mouse genetics, inbred strains of mice, and many other variations of the basic inbred strains that have been fostered and developed at the Jackson Laboratories. A result has been that a much higher percentage of US immunology research is carried out on the laboratory mouse than was initially true in Europe and Asian countries.

The capital investment by the NIH, the National Science Foundation, and private research-granting agencies in infrastructure, equipment, and buildings for research has been a major source of growth in immunology and many other fields of biomedical research in the United States.

But European countries have proved more adept at large-scale clinical research projects in immunology than the United States, where the great diversity of institutions and institutional support has balkanized the research effort. This works to the detriment of

1  

All data in this paragraph is from special analysis conducted by NRC Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel of Survey of Earned Doctorates database for this study.



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