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Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields (2000)

Chapter: Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research

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Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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ATTACHMENT 3
INTERNATIONAL BENCHMARKING OF US IMMUNOLOGY RESEARCH

Panel on International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research

Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

This report is dedicated to Marian (Bunny) Koshland a pioneer in the field of molecular immunology and a friend to young immunologists

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research

Panel Members

IRVING L. WEISSMAN (Chair), Professor of Pathology, Department of Pathology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California

JAMES ALLISON, Howard Hughes Medical Investigator and Professor, Cancer Research Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley

FREDERICK W. ALT, Howard Hughes Medical Investigator and Professor, Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, Massachusetts

HAROLD VON BOEHMER, Professor, Faculte de Medicine Necker – Enfants Malades, Institut Necker, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherché Medicale, Paris, France

MAX D. COOPER, Howard Hughes Medical Investigator and Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics, Pathology, and Microbiology, University of Alabama, Birmingham

IRWIN FELLER, Director, Institute for Policy Research and Evaluation and Professor of Economics, Pennsylvania State University, University Park

LAURIE H. GLIMCHER, Irene Heinz Given Professor of Immunology, Harvard School of Public Health, and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Cambridge, Massachusetts

DAVID V. GOEDDEL, President and Chief Executive Officer, Tularik, Inc., South San Francisco, California

HUGH MCDEVITT, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California

DIANE MATHIS, Director de Recherches, Institut de Genetique et de Biologie Moleculaire et Cellulaire Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherché Medicale, Strasbourg, France

GUSTAV NOSSAL, Professor Emeritus, Department of Pathology, University of Melbourne, Australia

ROGER M. PERLMUTTER, Senior Vice President, Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, New Jersey

CRAIG B. THOMPSON, Howard Hughes Medical Investigator and Professor, University of Chicago, Illinois

DON C. WILEY, Howard Hughes Medical Investigator and Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Project Staff

DEBORAH D. STINE, Study Director

TAMARA ZEMLO, Research Associate

NORMAN GROSSBLATT, Editor

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

Immunology Benchmarking Guidance Group

PHILIP W. MAJERUS (Chair), Professor of Medicine, Biochemistry, and Molecular Biophysics and Director, Division of Hematology-Oncology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO

MARIAN KOSHLAND (Chair*), Professor of Immunology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley

ENRIQUETA C. BOND, President, The Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Durham, NC

RUBY B. HEARN, Senior Vice President, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, NJ

RICHARD B. JOHNSTON, JR., Department of Pediatrics, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver, CO

DONALD R. MATTISON, Medical Director, March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation, White Plains, NY

JUNE OSBORN, President, Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, New York, NY

*  

 Served from October 1996 to October 1997

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

PREFACE

In 1993, the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine issued the report Science, Technology, and the Federal Government: National Goals for a New Era. In that report, COSEPUP suggested that the United States adopt the principle of being among the world leaders in all major fields of science so that it can quickly apply and extend advances in science whenever and wherever they occur. The report also recommended that the United States maintain clear leadership in fields that are tied to national objectives, that capture the imagination of society, or that have multiplicative effects on other scientific advances. Those recommendations were reiterated in another Academy report, Allocating Federal Funds for Science and Technology, developed by a committee chaired by Frank Press.

Both reports stated that quantitative measures, such as number of dollars spent and number of scientists supported, are inadequate indicators of leadership and that policy decisions about programmatic issues or resource allocation would be better informed by comparative international assessments. To measure international leadership, the reports recommended the establishment of independent panels that would conduct comparative international assessments of scientific accomplishments in particular research fields. COSEPUP indicated that the panels should consist of researchers who work in the specific fields under review (both in the United States and abroad), people who work in closely related fields, and of the research users results who follow the fields closely.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

To test the feasibility of the recommendation that panels conduct comparative assessments, COSEPUP has conducted experimental evaluations of three fields: mathematics, materials science and engineering, and immunology. The study panels for the assessments were charged with developing and presenting their findings and conclusions, not recommendations. Specifically, panel members were asked to address the following three questions:

  • What is the position of 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?

This document presents results of the third and final assessment, that of research in immunology. The panel concluded that the United States is the world leader in immunology, and in its major subfields. In addition, while US dominance is evident in the major sub-fields: cellular immunology, molecular immunology, immunogenetics, and clinical aspects of immunology, and among the world leaders in some parts of subfields, the panel found that US leadership in immunology depends on being able to generate and pursue innovative research ideas. Sufficient funding from both government and private sources, talented researchers, and key infrastructure support mechanisms are instrumental in maintaining US leadership. However, diverse federal and industry priorities, a potential reduction in access to domestic and foreign talent, and the increasing cost of maintaining mice facilities could curtail US ability to capitalize on leadership opportunities in immunology.

Now that all three of the assessments are completed, COSEPUP will begin to discuss the feasibility and utility of the benchmarking process and will make whatever recommendations it deems appropriate.

The committee appreciates all the hard work and dedication of the panel members and thanks them for their help and cooperation in completing this report.

This report has been reviewed by persons chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to obtain candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and COSEPUP in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets the institutional standards of objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The content of the review comments and draft manuscript remains confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following for their participation in the review of this report:

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

Jeffrey Bluestone, Director, Ben May Institute for Cancer Research

Suzan Cozzens, Chair, School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology

Frank Fitch, Albert D. Lasker Professor Emeritus, Ben May Institute for Cancer Research

Maureen Henderson, Professor Emeritus of Epidemiology and Medicine, University of Washington

Richard Locksley, Department of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California San Francisco

Tak Mak, Ontario Cancer Institute, Department of Immunology and Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto

Carl Nathan, Beatrice and Samuel A. Seaver Laboratory, Department of Medicine, Cornell University Medical College

Joseph Newhouse, John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Management, Harvard University

Philippa Marrack, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, National Jewish Medical and Research Center

Edward Penhoet, Vice Chairman and CEO, Chiron Corporation

Klaus Rajewsky, Institute for Genetics, University of Cologne

Martin Weigert, Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University

Arthur Weiss, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California

Although those just listed have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, responsibility for the final content of this report rests solely with the author panel and COSEPUP. Finally, the project was aided by the invaluable help of COSEPUP professional staff: Deborah D. Stine, study director, and Tamara Zemlo, research associate.

Phillip A. Griffiths

Chair

Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×
This page in the original is blank.
Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×
Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×
   

3.4 Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Firms

 

283

   

3.5 The Clinical Trial

 

284

   

4 LIKELY FUTURE POSITION

 

288

   

4.1 Funding and Resource Limitations

 

288

   

4.2 Increased Competition from Europe and Other Countries

 

290

   

4.3 Clinical Immunology and the Shift Toward HMOs

 

290

   

4.4 Training of US Students

 

290

   

5 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

 

295

   

5.1 The United States Is the World Leader in All the Major Subfields of Immunology But Is Only Among the World Leaders in Some Specific Sub-Subfields,

 

295

   

5.2 Flexibility to Pursue Original and Innovative Research Ideas Has Attracted Both Domestic and International Human Capital. Federal, State, and Private Funding Have all Contributed to a Climate Ripe for This Innovative Research,

 

296

   

5.3 Industrial Interests Have Fostered Many Striking Breakthroughs in Immunology,

 

296

   

5.4 A Scarcity of Large-Scale Clinical Trials in Immunology Can Be Attributed to Shortages of Funding and of Qualified Personnel. In Addition, Increasing Dominance of Managed Care Means That Fewer Patients Are Available to Academic Institutions for Clinical Trials,

 

297

   

5.5 Shifting Federal and Industry Priorities, a Potential Reduction in Access to Domestic and Foreign Talent, and the Increasing Cost of Maintaining Mouse Facilities Could Curtail US Ability To Capitalize on Leadership Opportunities,

 

297

   

6 REFERENCES

 

299

   

APPENDIX: PANEL AND STAFF BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

 

300

Tables and Graphs

Figure 2.1:

 

Contribution of United States and Other Nations to Immunology Papers in 1981-1996

 

269

Figure 2.2:

 

Percentage of World's Papers in Immunology from 1981-1996, by Country

 

270

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

Figure 2.3:

 

Contribution of United States and Other Nations to Immunology Citations in 1981-1997

 

271

Figure 2.4:

 

Percentage of World's Citations in Immunology in 1981-1997, by Country

 

275

Figure 3.1:

 

U.S. Net Trade Balance: Biotechnology, 1990-1996

 

287

Figure 4.1:

 

Number of PhD Students in Immunology in the United States, 1977-1996

 

291

Figure 4.2:

 

Percentage of US Citizen and Permanent-Resident PhD Students in Immunology Supported by National Institutes of Health, 1977-1996

 

291

Table 2.1:

 

Immunology International Reputation Survey Results

 

274

Table 2.2:

 

Relative Citation Impact of High-Impact Papers in Immunology, by Country, 1981-1997

 

276

Table 2.3:

 

Authorship of Immunology Papers in Blood, 1995-1997

 

277

Table 2.4:

 

Authorship of Immunology Papers in Cell, 1995-1997

 

277

Table 2.5:

 

Authorship of Immunology Papers in Immunity, 1995-1997

 

277

Table 2.6:

 

Authorship of Immunology Papers in Nature, 1995-1997

 

277

Table 2.7:

 

Authorship of Immunology Papers in Science, 1995-1997

 

278

Table 2.8:

 

Authorship of Immunology Papers in Journal of Experimental Medicine, February 1996–July 1996

 

278

Table 3.1:

 

Analysis of Nobel Prizes Presented for Immunology Research

 

282

Table 3.2:

 

Biotechnology Industry Comparable Metrics (Ecu in Millions)

 

285

Table 3.3:

 

Entrepreneurial Life Sciences Highlights (Ecu in Millions)

 

286

Table 4.1:

 

NIH Trainee and Fellowship Support in Immunology

 

292

Table 4.2:

 

Employment Status of Doctorates in Immunology

 

293

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×
This page in the original is blank.
Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

To be leaders in healthcare and to help maintain a vibrant economy, it is critical that the United States lead the world in immunological research and its clinical applications. The rapid application of immunology's fundamental discoveries has allowed them to contribute to the societal and economic well-being of our country over the past 30 years.

The Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) Panel on International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research examined the leadership status of the United States in immunology. 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 available to conclude that the United States is the world leader in immunology.

US dominance is also evident in the major subfields of immunology-cellular immunology, molecular immunology, immunogenetics, and clinical aspects of immunology. This is not a surprising result, given the level of funding of immunology and its consequent effects on the size of the US enterprise, which writes some 60% of the ''high impact" (i.e., most cited) immunology papers published each year. However, what is of greater interest, given the size of the enterprise, is that in some parts of subfields international preeminence is more evident.

The panel also found that

  • The United States is the world leader in all the major subfields of immunology but is only among the world leaders in some specific sub-subfields.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×
  • Flexibility to pursue original and innovative research ideas has attracted both domestic and international human capital. Federal, state, and private funding have all contributed to a climate ripe for this innovative research.

  • Industrial interests have fostered many striking breakthroughs in immunology.

  • A scarcity of large-scale clinical trials in immunology can be attributed to shortages in funding and of qualified personnel. In addition, increasing dominance of managed care means that fewer patients are available to academic institutions for clinical trials.

  • Shifting federal and industry priorities, a potential reduction in access to domestic and foreign talent, and the increasing cost of maintaining mouse facilities could curtail US ability to capitalize on leadership opportunities.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

1
INTRODUCTION

1.1 How Important Is It for the United States to Lead in Immunology Research?

Immunology encompasses fundamental scientific discovery at all levels of biological organization. It is also a practical field that provides, for example, highly specific molecular entities (antibodies) that are the basic tools for identifications (as in diagnosis) and separations in biology, medicine, and industry. Disorders of the immune system are frequent causes of human disease, ranging from congenital and acquired immunodeficiencies, such as AIDS, to autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, such as insulin-dependent diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The normal functions of the immune system reject transplanted cells, tissues, and organs. Pharmaceutical and biotechnological interventions to dampen immune responses in autoimmunity, inflammation, and transplantation are important segments of the pharmaceutical industry and clinical medicine, as are attempts to amplify or augment components of the immune system to help eliminate infections, cancers, and parasites that have evaded immunosurveillance.

Institutions that have robust programs of research, training, teaching, and application in immunology have had (and probably will continue to have) opportunities to take advantage of immunology as a science that enriches other biomedical endeavors, to enhance the role of immunology in medicine, and to use immunology in entrepreneurial and industrial efforts. It is therefore a vital US interest to be in a position of leadership in immunology, so that the intellectual, medical, and financial benefits of immunology will be available.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

1.2 What Is Immunology?

Immunology has been described as the branch of life sciences that is involved in distinguishing self from nonself. All multicellular (metazoan) organisms are prey to infection or invasion. With the specialization of cells within organisms into organs and tissues that serve distinct functions, subsets of cells that survey other cells or elements for self or nonself markers have evolved to serve immune functions. In humans, as in other vertebrates, the cells that make up the immune system include some that are similar to the innate immune systems of prevertebrates and others—called lymphocytes—that appear to constitute a vertebrate invention, and are responsible for most of the adaptive immune functions of vertebrates.

There are two major classes of lymphocytes: T cells, which develop in the thymus; and B cells, which develop in the bone marrow. Those two classes have different immune functions. For example, in an immune response to a viral infection, B lymphocytes are triggered by the virus to differentiate into mature effector cells that produce and secrete molecules called antibodies. Antibodies can bind to and inactivate or eliminate specific viruses before they enter cells of the body. Viruses can penetrate cells and cause them to use the viral genetic material as templates and instructions to produce more viruses. Once viruses enter the cells, they are largely hidden from circulating antibodies.

To protect the organism against the intracellular phases of viral infection, several populations of lymphocytes, including a subpopulation of inflammatory and killer T cells, collectively isolate and eliminate virus-infected cells. T cells recognize virus-infected cells by means of cell-surface receptors (called T-cell receptors or TCRs) that adhere by molecular complementarity to "flags" on the surface of infected cells. The flags are a class of molecules that make up what is called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), which picks up degraded fragments (about nine amino acids long) of viral proteins within the cells and bring them to the surface to be detected by TCRs on inflammatory and killer T cells.

Both the magnitude and the quality of the immune responses by these types of T and B cells are regulated by helper T cells. During the course of an infection T and B cells with virus-specific receptors undergo many rounds of cell division; some cell progeny are destined to be immediate effectors of the response, and others are retained as "memory" cells. Long after an infection (or vaccination), the expanded number of memory cells guarantees that a second exposure to the same virus will be met by an expanded response which develops more rapidly, providing effective immunity before serious consequences of the infection develop. During development of the T and B lymphocytes from

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

their precursors, members of the population that have receptors to self are usually eliminated, inactivated, or not expanded. Thus, the adaptive immune system usually ignores self and responds to nonself by providing early and effective immunity and lifelong immune memory. Much is known about this complex system, but much is yet to be learned, so immunology is still an attractive subject for training and research. For example, many immune diseases are known to be the result of mutations or alterations in particular components of the system, whereas others have an unknown etiology.

Immunology attracts diverse life scientists. Perhaps because the cells of the immune system are easily obtained, the system has often been used as a leading-edge subject for studies in other disciplines. Study of homogeneous lymphocyte populations, for example, leads to research in many aspects of signal transduction, wherein cell-surface receptor engagement signals cells to divide, differentiate, or die. It can be argued that we know more about vertebrate developmental immunology than about any other developmental system, including the first isolated stem cell in any system. Much of what is known about cell-surface adhesion and recognition receptors, the genes that encode them, and the evolution of these genes comes from studies of cells of the immune system. That cells can communicate by secreted protein messages called cytokines was elucidated largely through study of cells and cytokines of the immune system.

1.3 Immunology as an Academic Discipline

Immunologists are at work in virtually every life science department or division. But there are very few departments of immunology in academe. The multidisciplinary nature of immunology research is probably a major reason that immunology is so well connected with the more traditional subjects (such as biochemistry, genetics, and microbiology), whose approaches define their disciplines. It also explains the ready translation of discoveries in immunology to such clinical subjects as rheumatology, surgery (in transplantation), endocrinology (in diabetes), neurology (in multiple sclerosis), and allergy.

Although those connections have served immunology and the other subjects well and have probably protected immunologists from the isolation that their jargon could lead them into, immunology might be less of a force in academic politics and less of a presence in the 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.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

1.4 What Is the International Nature of Immunology?

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.

1.5 What Are Some Caveats?

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.

1.6 Panel Charge and Rationale

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?

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

The panel was asked only to develop findings and conclusions not recommendations. Its primary objective was to obtain a comprehensive overview of the field of immunology that included characterizing the key factors of the field, assessing the resources necessary for conducting and supporting immunologic research, and identifying trends in the types of research being done in the field. The panel strove to maintain an international perspective as it collected and analyzed the data for this report.

The panel assessed the current position of the United States relative to leadership in four subfields of immunology, and the benchmarking results themselves are presented in Chapter 2 of this report. The determinants of leadership that have influenced US advancement in the field are discussed in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 assimilates past leadership determinants and current benchmarking results to predict future US leadership status in the field.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

2
BENCHMARKING RESULTS

2.1 Methods

The assessment of a country's relative standing in research performance is subject to multiple complexities. Many measures could be used to evaluate the position of US-based research in immunology, but each suffers from generic or specific limitations. Such limitations include the collaborative and international scope of immunological research, which makes the drawing of national lines somewhat arbitrary; the inequality inherent in comparing a large, common enterprise with multiple smaller ones; and the difficulties of shifting information on the specific field of immunology from that on related research fields in large, aggregate databases. In addition, in the case of this panel's operations, budget and time constraints effectively ruled out any major undertakings to generate new data sets.

Within those constraints, the panel's strategy was to use three mainstream performance measures: reputation survey, citation analysis, and journal publication analysis, it then relied on the convergence of findings to compensate for the specific shortcomings of each measure. Although these measures have some independence, the degree of independence could not be assessed because the panel could not compensate for all of the shortcomings of the methodology.

As shown in Figures 2.1 and 2.2, the United States is clearly dominant in number of papers published in immunology. It produced 63% of the world's high impact (i.e., most cited) papers in immunology in 1981-1996; no other country produced 10%, and only one produced even 5%. Thus, comparisons are made in terms of the United States versus the rest of the world instead of on a country by country basis.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

FIGURE 2.1 Contribution of United States and other nations to high-impact immunology papers in 1981–1996. Source: Calculated from data obtained from the Institute for Scientific Information database on high-impact papers in immunology.

2.1.1 Reputation Survey

To estimate reputation, the panel conceived a virtual congress in which leading experts in immunology were asked to identify potential participants. Specifically, the field was divided into four major subfields-cellular immunology, molecular immunology, immunogenetics, and clinical aspects of immunology—and each was subdivided into four to 10 sub-subfields. The panel (composed of 11 US-based and three non-US-based scientists) then identified five to 15 respected leaders in each sub-subfield, based in the United States and in other countries, and polled each in person, by telephone, or by mail. The pollees were asked to imagine that they were about to organize an international congress session on their particular sub-subfield and to furnish a list of five to 20 potential speakers.

When the initial lists were considered, it became clear that there was a bias related to the laboratory location of the pollees: US-based investigators routinely named a higher percentage of Americans than did non-US-based investigators. The nationality of the poller also appeared to have an influence: the three non-US pollers often obtained a list more enriched in non-US speakers. Thus, additional subfield leaders were polled to approximate a 50:50 US: non-US ratio.

An advantage of our approach is that it incorporates the opinions of a variety of respected members of the immunology community: up-and-coming leaders as well as established ones, investigators from all over the world, and leaders of all sub-subfields, both basic and clinical. The

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

FIGURE 2.2 Percentage of world's high-impact papers in immunology from 1981–1996, by country. Source: Calculated from data obtained from the Institute for Scientific Information database on high-impact papers in immunology.

disadvantages are multiple: variable modes of polling, a variable sample size that was usually too small to allow statistical treatment of the data, lack of objective criteria, and nonproportionate sampling of researchers in countries outside the United States.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×
2.1.2 Citation Analysis

To identify the most frequently cited authors of immunologic research articles, a ''high-impact" immunology database was commissioned from the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI). (See http://www.isnet.com/products/rsg/impact.html for more information on "high-impact" paper methodology.) The ISI database was scanned over the years 1990-1997. For each year, the 200 most-cited papers in journals relevant to the field of immunology were listed. The authors having more than five papers on the list were ranked according to average number of citations per paper (174 authors ranging from 70.2 to 638.5/paper), and the country of the laboratory of each was listed. In addition, panel staff determined whether each author was also cited on the virtual-congress lists.

The contribution of the United States and other nations to immunology citations from 1981-1997 is shown in Figure 2.3. Of the 174 authors identified in the scan of the ISI database, 72% including the top 112 authors identified were in US-based laboratories. The ISI database indicates that US laboratories produced 63% of the papers, which garnered 66% of the citations, in journals relevant to immunology during the period 1981-1997.

The major strengths of this mode of analysis are its relative objectivity and its providing a basis of comparison with the virtual-congress polling data. However, the analysis suffers from some flaws related to

FIGURE 2.3 Contribution of United States and other nations to high-impact immunology citations in 1981-1997. Source: Calculated from data obtained from the Institute for Scientific Information database on high-impact papers in immunology.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

the organization of the ISI database. Data from several of the top-level general journals (such as Cell) and immunology journals (such as Journal of Experimental Medicine) were not included. In addition, the list of authors is truncated after the first 15 names, possibly excluding authors who participated in large clinical trials. An additional limitation imposed by the database was that there was no breakdown according to subfield and sub-subfield of immunology.

2.1.3 Journal Publication Analysis

The panel identified four leading general journals (Science, Cell, Nature, and Blood) and one of the top journals focused specifically on immunology (Immunity). Panel members scanned the tables of contents of each of the journals for 1995-1997, identifying immunology papers in the general journals and the laboratory nationality of the principal investigator and the subfield in all the journals. In addition, a small sample from the Journal of Experimental Medicine was analyzed.

Additional journals—such as Nature Medicine, Lancet, Journal of Clinical Investigation, and New England Journal of Medicine—could have been analyzed as well but such an analysis was beyond the resources of this panel. Others—such as the European Journal of Immunology, Journal of Immunology (US), International Immunology (Japan), and Immunology (UK)—reflect mainly the country of research origin and so are not appropriate here.

This approach appears to be procedurally the least biased of the three. It does suffer from the usual weaknesses of any analysis based on publication data, including the dominance of English as the language of international discourse and the vagaries of the peer-review journal-acceptance process.

2.2 Results

Although the three criteria for evaluating US research efforts in immunology were quite distinct and had different strengths and flaws they led to basically the same conclusion: immunology research in the United States is pre-eminent in the world. The data supporting that conclusion are summarized below and in the following tables.

2.2.1 Reputation Survey

The data-collection measures for the different sub-subfields proved highly variable, including the number of pollees (3-17), the fraction of US-based pollees (41% -83%), and the number of names cited per pollee (a few to more than 20). In addition, the database for the individual sub-subfields was far too small to permit any kind of statistical analysis. Those points are partially illustrated by some of the entries in Table 2.1. The panel decided to emphasize the data pooled by subfields in which

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

there was generally much less variation in the data-collection measures, although attention was still paid to findings in the context of the sub-subfield groupings for any nuances of interest.

In all four subfields, a clear majority of the names cited were investigators directing US laboratories 60-70% in all cases. However, the position of leadership was not so evident in some domains, for example:

  • In cellular immunology, the sub-subfields of lymphocyte development and self-nonself recognition.

  • In molecular immunology, the sub-subfield of NK receptors.

  • In immunogenetics, the sub-subfield of inherited immunodeficiency.

  • In clinical aspects of immunology, the sub-subfields of tumor immunology and transplantation and immunosuppressive drugs.

In those domains, the proportion of US-based investigators was closer to 50%. The statistical significance of the differences could not be tested, but in general they correspond well to the collective opinion of the panel numbers.

2.2.2 Citation Analysis

The results of the panel's citation analyses are shown in Figure 2.4 and Table 2.2. As shown in Figure 2.4, the top 3 countries for the immunology field based on percentage of the world's citations from 1981-1997 in immunology are:

  1. United States

  2. England

  3. Switzerland

Another measure that can be used is relative citation impact (RCI). RCI is the country's share of the world's citations in the field, divided by its share of world publications in the field. It can be thought of as a comparison of a country's citation rate for a particular field with the world's citation rate for the field. A relative citation impact greater than 1 shows that the country's rate for the field is higher than the world's. Some believe RCI is a measure of both the influence and the visibility of a country's research (as disseminated through publications) and it gives some indication of the quality of the average paper. As shown in Table 2.2, the top 3 countries based on relative citation index for 1981-1997 are:

  1. United States

  2. Belgium

  3. Australia

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

TABLE 2.1 Immunology International Reputation Survey Results

 

 

Pollees

 

Virtual-Congress Speakers

Subfield

Sub-subfield

No. of Pollees

No. US

% US

No. Non-US

% Non-US

No.

No. US

US

No. Non-US

% Non-US

Cellular immunology and immunology

1. Lymphocyte development

17

7

41.2

10

58.8

189

98

51.9%

89

47.1%

 

2. Cellular interactions

10

6

60

4

40

62

46

74.2%

16

25.8%

 

3. Self-nonself recognition

11

6

54.5

5

45.5

122

59

48.4%

62

50.8%

 

4. Cellular traffic adhesion

4

3

75

1

25

75

47

62.7%

28

37.3%

 

5. Host-parasite interactions

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

 

6. Innate immunity

5

3

60

2

40

67

49

73.1%

18

26.9%

 

7. Mucosal immunity

4

3

75

1

25

99

70

70.7%

29

29.3%

Molecular aspects of immunology

1. B-and T-cell genes

8

3

37.5

5

62.5

113

65

57.5%

47

41.6%

 

2. NK receptors

11

6

54.5

5

45.5

124

76

61.3%

48

38.7%

 

3. Receptors and tolerance

8

6

75

2

25

71

51

71.8%

20

28.2%

 

4. Transcription

8

4

50

4

50

88

72

81.8%

16

18.2%

 

5. Antigen uptake

5

4

80

1

20

79

46

58.2%

32

40.5%

 

6. Structural analysis

7

5

71.4

2

28.6

34

36

76.5%

8

23.5%

 

7. Apoptosis

4

3

75

1

25

28

22

78.6%

6

21.4%

Immunogenetics

1. Evolution of MHC

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

x

 

2. Autoimmune disease

4

2

50

2

50

63

41

65.1%

22

34.9%

 

3. Inherited immunodeficiency

10

6

60

4

40

145

74

51.0%

71

49.0%

 

4. Neoplastic immune disorders

6

5

83.3

1

16.7

61

41

67.2%

20

32.8%

Clinical aspects of immunology

1. Immunopathologies and immune interventions

13

8

61.5

5

38.5

258

157

60.9%

99

38.4%

 

2. Tumor immunology

4

2

50

2

50

34

26

76.5%

8

23.5%

 

3. Transplantation and immunosuppressive drugs

13

7

53.8

6

46.2

189

108

57.1%

81

42.9%

Source: Nonrandom polling data obtained by panel members interviewing equal numbers of US and non-US immunologists whose research the panel members felt had made significant contributions to specific subfields of immunology. The chosen immunologists (pollees) were instructed to select other prominent immunologists in their subfields that they would invite to talk at a virtual immunology conference. Invited researchers are referred to here as virtual congress speakers. Both the pollees and virtual congress speakers remain anonymous and are reported as frequencies and percentages of US and non-US researchers in table.

Note: Percentages might not add to 100% because of rounding errors or missing data; x = data insufficient.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

FIGURE 2.4 Percentage of world's citations to high-impact papers in immunology in 1981-1997, by country. Source: Calculated from data obtained from the Institute for Scientific Information database on high-impact papers in immunology.

A bit disconcertingly, only 54% of the authors identified in the ISI Immunology high-impact citations were also cited in the survey conducted by the panel. The discrepancy can probably be attributed to flaws in the two approaches, in particular such defects in the ISI database as the exclusion of critical journals such as Cell and the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

TABLE 2.2 Relative citation impact of high-impact papers in immunology, by country, 1981-1997

Country

No. Citations

Fraction of World's Citations

No. Papers

Fraction of World's Papers

RCIa

United States

632,326

66.03

2,360

63.39

1.04

Belgium

11,626

1.21

44

1.18

1.03

Australia

16,701

1.74

65

1.75

1.00

Switzerland

38,487

4.02

153

4.11

0.98

England

69,645

7.27

278

7.47

0.97

Japan

31,689

3.31

127

3.41

0.97

France

33,877

3.54

139

3.73

0.95

Sweden

13,865

1.45

57

1.53

0.95

Canada

23,329

2.44

101

2.71

0.90

Israel

6,098

0.64

27

0.73

0.88

Netherlands

21,378

2.23

95

2.55

0.87

Denmark

3,910

0.41

18

0.48

0.84

Germanyb

34,927

3.65

164

4.41

0.83

Italy

15,746

1.64

75

2.01

0.82

Scotland

4,009

0.42

20

0.54

0.78

Totals

957,613

3,723

Notes: a RCI is the relative citation impact, a country's percentage of world citations divided by its percentage of world papers. Threshold set at minimum of 17 papers.

Source: Calculated from data obtained from the Institute for Scientific Information database on high-impact papers in immunology.

2.2.3 Journal Publication Analysis

The results of the journal publication analysis are shown in Tables 2.3-2.7. US-based investigators produced about three-fourths of the immunology papers published in the journals Cell, Science, and Immunity in 1995-1997. US-based researchers contributed about two-thirds of the immunology papers published in Nature in 1995-1997. In contrast, scientists in countries other than the United States published more immunology articles in Blood than US-based researchers in those years (54% and 46%, respectively). The immunological subfield in which an international presence was especially strong was immunogenetics for the papers published in Cell and Blood. However, in Nature, Science , and Immunity, US-based researchers published more papers in immunogenetics than non-US-based researchers. The United States had more papers published in all five journals in the subfield of molecular immunology. The subfield of cellular immunology and clinical aspects were dominated by US-based researchers in all journals examined except Blood. Because of its extensiveness, only 6 months of the Journal of Experimental Medicine was analyzed, as shown in Table 2.8.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

TABLE 2.3 Authorship of Immunology Papers in Blood, 1995-1997

Subfield

No.(%) US

No.(%) Non US

Total

Cellular immunology

58(46.4)

67(53.6)

125

Molecular immunology

47(54.7)

39(45.3)

86

Immunogenetics

10(37.0)

17(63.0)

27

Clinical aspects

158(44.5)

197(55.5)

355

TOTALS

273(46.0)

320(54.0)

593

 

Source: Original analysis conducted for this report. Panel members reviewed tables of contents and decided subfields of immunology of each paper.

TABLE 2.4 Authorship of Immunology Papers in Cell, 1995-1997

Subfield

No.(%) U.S.

No.(%) Non U.S.

Total

Cellular immunology

14(60.9)

9(39.1)

23

Molecular immunology

45(75.0)

15(25.0)

60

Immunogenetics

0(0)

1(100)

1

Clinical aspects

12(75.0)

4(25.0)

16

TOTALS

71(71.0)

29(29.0)

100

 

Source: Original analysis conducted for this report. Panel members reviewed tables of contents and decided subfields of immunology of each paper.

TABLE 2.5 Authorship of Immunology Papers in Immunity, 1995-1997

Subfield

No.(%) U.S.

No.(%) Non U.S.

Total

Cellular immunology

113(72.9)

42(27.1)

155

Molecular immunology

145(78.3)

40(21.6)

185

Immunogenetics

32(72.7)

12(27.2)

44

Clinical aspects

26(81.2)

6(18.7)

32

TOTALS

316(76.0)

100(24.0)

416

 

Source: Original analysis conducted for this report. Panel members reviewed tables of contents and decided subfields of immunology of each paper.

TABLE 2.6 Authorship of Immunology Papers in Nature, 1995-1997

Subfield

No.(%) U.S.

No.(%) Non U.S.

Total

Cellular immunology

37(68.5)

17(31.5)

54

Molecular immunology

48(61.5)

30(38.5)

78

Immunogenetics

6(66.7)

3(33.3)

9

Clinical aspects

9(64.3)

5(35.7)

14

TOTALS

100(64.5)

55(35.5)

155

 

Source: Original analysis conducted for this report. Panel members reviewed tables of contents and decided subfields of immunology of each paper.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

TABLE 2.7 Authorship of Immunology Papers in Science, 1995-1997

Subfield

No.(%) U.S.

No.(%) Non U.S.

Total

Cellular immunology

44(67.7)

21(32.3)

65

Molecular immunology

68(82.9)

14(17.1)

82

Immunogenetics

6(60.0)

4(40.0)

10

Clinical aspects

46(66.7)

23(33.3)

69

TOTALS

164(72.6)

62(27.4)

226

 

Source: Original analysis conducted for this report. Panel members reviewed tables of contents and decided subfields of immunology of each paper.

TABLE 2.8 Authorship of Immunology Papers in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, February 1996-July 1996

Subfield

No.(%) U.S.

No.(%) Non U.S.

Total

Cellular immunology

53(58.9)

37(41.1)

90

Molecular immunology

61(77.2)

18(22.8)

79

Immunogenetics

13(86.7)

2(13.3)

15

Clinical aspects

37(64.9)

20(35.1)

57

TOTALS

164(68.0)

77(32.0)

241

 

Source: Original analysis conducted for this report. Panel members reviewed tables of contents and decided subfields of immunology of each paper.

2.3 Summary

According to all three evaluation methods, US-based research in immunology plays a dominant role in the worldwide effort. Within the limitations of each measure and the limits of the panel's use of them, the data produce a strikingly consistent outcome: all three approaches assigned a 2:1 to 3:1 dominance vis-a-vis the rest of the world. Of course the dominance needs to be weighed in relation to the relative richness of the United States in numbers of investigators, institutions and resources.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

3
KEY FACTORS

The panel identified five key factors that influence the international leadership status of US immunology research. These factors are

  • Funding

  • Human Resources

  • Infrastructure

  • Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Firms

  • Clinical Trials

Each is assessed in more depth below relative to how the United States compares to other countries.

3.1 Funding

Both the US and foreign members of the panel generally agreed that the structure and financial-support mechanisms of the major research institutions in the United States and the structure and mechanisms for provision of research-grant support by government and private granting agencies constitutes a major factor in the success of the US scientific enterprise in immunology and in almost every field of biomedical research.

The reasons have to do with the organization of higher education and research in contrast with the situation in the United States. Many foreign countries, US universities, medical schools, and research institutes are either privately supported or supported by individual state governments-separate administrative units, under the federal system in

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

the United States. Thus, there is a great diversity of private institutions and a great diversity of mechanisms and approaches for funding state-supported institutions and philanthropically supported institutions throughout the United States. Most important the management, regulation, and governance of private institutions are determined by the institutions, and are therefore somewhat removed from the direct effects of federal funding decisions and federal granting agencies.

In contrast, in Europe, Japan, Australia, and several other countries, the central government supports research institutions, universities, and medical schools and allocates research-grant support for specific research projects of specific people. Government regulation of hiring, personnel practices, and many other aspects of operating research laboratories are therefore centrally controlled and do not permit the diversity that is characteristic of the US scientific enterprise. In addition to the diversity of US institutional organization and support, many research programs throughout the United States have enjoyed a greater degree of support from pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms than is true in Europe.

A second major factor in fostering innovation, creativity and rapid development of new technologies is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) model of research-grant allocation and funding: almost all research (except small projects funded by contracts) is initiated by individual investigators, and the decision as to merit is made by a dual-review system of detailed peer review by experts in each subfield of biomedical science.

In this system, a grant is given to an individual investigator, essentially regardless of the investigator's academic rank or position, as long as he or she is given principal investigator status by his or her institution. Almost all institutions grant principal investigator status to scientists at the beginning of their independent careers, almost always after completion of a postdoctoral fellowship. Individual investigators in universities, medical schools, and research institutions are thus empowered to be individual entrepreneurs. They are not subject to any type of review or control of their chosen research subjects by department chairs, other faculty colleagues, or other scientific colleagues in their institutions. This system has prevented the development of hierarchical research groups of the sort that are seen in many other countries, and it has fostered innovation and independent research initiatives to an amazing degree.

Another major source of funding of immunology (and other biomedical subjects) is the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). HHMI-selects and retains investigators (rather than projects) largely on the basis of their track record. HHMI-selected investigators are widely regarded as among the most distinguished and productive in the field at both the senior and junior investigator levels. A key to the process has

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

been the selection of external reviewers solely on the basis of their scientific accomplishments and their standing in the field. HHMI provides superb infrastructure for its scientists, who are staff members of HHMI, but whose laboratories are integrated into major academic and research institutions, mainly in the United States. The HHMI scientists are much freer to follow their imaginations and to change the course of their projects than NIH funded investigators, in that the principal evaluation of HHMI investigators is based on productivity, whereas NIH evaluates progress mainly on prescribed projects. The funding of HHMI investigators has substantially enhanced their productivity and has relieved the pressure on NIH to fund meritorious other projects. Additional private sources of immunology funding in the United States are the American Cancer Society, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the Arthritis Foundation, and the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Funding for training grants for predoctoral fellows and postdoctoral fellows also comes from a wide variety of institutes of NIH and from private sources. Both types of funding have, over the last 40 years, influenced how science is organized in the United States. There are two major results of this entrepreneurial, individual-based system:

  • It has led to the development of multiple centers of excellence in immunology and many other fields of biomedical research at many centers around the country.

  • Many key research centers are based in or closely attached to large medical centers. This stimulates the expansion and application of immunology to many clinical problems and the study of many problems in basic immunology.

Because immunology research in the United States is based largely in medical institutions and because research, training, and clinical activities go on in parallel in these institutions, interdisciplinary research, development of clinical applications, and the application of basic immunology in solving clinical problems have all been fostered.

Further, NIH and several private funding agencies foster basic scientific training for clinically trained people. Many medical schools have people in their departments of medicine, 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).

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

TABLE 3.1 Analysis of Nobel Prizes Presented for Immunology Research

Prize

Laureate

Citizenship

Research Done In

Currently

1951

Max Theiler

South Africa

South Africa

1957

Daniel Bovet

Switzerland

Switzerland

1960

F. Macfarlane Burnet

Australia

Australia

 

Peter Medawar

Great Britain

Great Britain

1972

Rodney R. Porter

Great Britain

Great Britain

 

Gerald M. Edelman

United States

United States

United States

1977

Rosalyn S. Yalow

United States

United States

United States

1980

George D. Snell

United States

United States

 

Jean Dausset

France

France

France

 

Baruj Benecerraf

United States

United States

United States

1984

Cesar Milstein

Great Britain

Great Britain

Great Britain

 

Georges J.F. Kohler

Germany

Switzerland

 

Niels K. Jerne

Denmark

Switzerland

1987

Susumu Tonegawa

Japan

Switzerland/

United States

United States

1996

Peter C. Doherty

Australia

Australia/

United States

United States

 

Rolf M. Zinkernagel

Switzerland

Australia/

United States/

Switzerland

Switzerland

 

Source: Analysis conducted by panel members for this report.

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

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

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 efficient, large-scale clinical research in the United States, once basic research has led to the development of new therapeutic approaches. The European adeptness is due to many factors. In some cases, it is because of the centralized government control of medical schools and research institutions. In others, it is because physicians are able to maintain a single life-long comprehensive record of patients, which makes it easier to randomize individual patients or practice. Furthermore, in some countries, such as the United Kingdom, clinical-trial methodology has been a special interest of the medical research council and by a national policy that uses randomized trials as a way to introduce new treatment or diagnostic tests.

3.4 Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Firms

Because of the nature of the venture-capital industry in the United States, the greater flexibility of this industry, and its willingness to fund

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.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

small biotechnology startup firms, particularly those involved in molecular biology and recombinant-DNA technology, there has been a remarkable growth in biotechnology and a gradual shift of those firms into large pharmaceutical firms. In the last 7 years, although the number of biotechnology companies worldwide has been rather static at approximately 1,275, the amount of money spent on research and development by the industry has almost doubled from $4.9 billion to $9.9 billion (Ernst & Young, 1998a). The result of this phenomenal growth has been the creation of a new source of employment for PhD and MD trainees in immunology, which has attracted many graduate students into immunology.

Industrywide data on the amount of money spent on immunology-specific research are not available, so the panel chose to examine trends in industry-supported research for the entire biotechnology industry. Biotechnology industry support for research is much greater in the United States than in Europe as shown in Tables 3.2-3.3 (Ernst & Young, 1998b). This financing of research and the use of many academic researchers for consultation in biotech firms and large pharmaceutical firms have provided relatively direct avenues for postdoctoral immunologists to obtain employment, to move across disciplines, and to capitalize rapidly on technology developments that are fostered primarily in biotech firms. In addition, the role of many US academic researchers in founding or participating in the founding of biotechnology firms has enhanced the linkage between academic and industrial research in immunology. In some cases (decidedly a minority), the necessity for patent protection has sometimes impeded the flow of information from research developments in biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms. The ability of biotech firms and large pharmaceutical firms to take discoveries from academic research into startup companies and then large firms and into clinical application has been an overall benefit for the development of clinical immunology in the United States. This entrepreneurial approach has also translated into an economic advantage for the United States over other countries. As shown in Figure 3.1, the United States has a net positive trade balance in biotechnology-based products that was in the low $600 million range in 1990, rose to almost $1 billion in 1994 and then decreased to about $650 million in 1996. (NSF, 1998: Appendix Table 6-6)

3.5 The Clinical Trial

There is a shortage of people in the United States trained to design and administer large-scale trials of new immunology-based therapies. In addition, the impact of managed care has narrowed the patient base available for this type of clinical research, except in large, nonprofit managed-care organizations, such as the Kaiser-Permanente organization.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

TABLE 3.2 Biotechnology Industry Comparable Metrics (Ecu in Millions)

European Companies

Biotech Company

Market Cap

Turnover

Profit/ Loss

R&D Costs

Employees

British Biotech

1,015

29.1

–42.6

54.2

454

Qiagen

699

68.2

8.1

7.6

650

Innogenetics

552

25.9

–0.9

12.6

380

Biocompatibles International

544

16.4

–27.6

12.2

393

Shire Pharmaceuticals

531

34.4

–0.2

16.1

390

Cortecs

412

11.5

–17.5

17.2

258

Genset

392

14.9

–17.1

23.1

355

Chiroscience

358

17.2

–27.9

33.2

320

NeuroSearch

357

2.7

–8.9

10.1

110

Celltech Group

340

6.4

–17.9

31.2

220

Scotia Holding

309

42.1

–30.8

34.3

420

Multinational Company

Market Cap

Turnover

Profit/ Loss

R&D Costs

Employees

Novartis

99,554

19,590.4

3,274

2,320.3

87,239

Glaxo Welcome

76,153

11,915.7

4,011

1,714.2

52.501

Smithkline Beecham

52,447

11,639.5

2,464

1,255.8

55,400

Zeneca

303,312

7,749

1,120

975.1

31,100

Astra

25,425

5,074.2

1,153

988.3

22,206

Baver Group

24,741

27,912

1,498

2,011.7

144,600

Hoechst Marion Roussel

18,590

7,091

838

1,206

40,500

US Companies

Biotech Company

Market Cap

Turnover

Profit/ Loss

R&D Costs

Employees

Amgen

14,144

2,115.8

624.7

485.1

4,646

Chiron

3,588

1,206.3

50.5

340.8

7,434

Genentech

2,469

888.4

108.4

432.7

3,071

Biogen

2,300

254.5

37.7

121.3

675

Alza

2,264

428.1

84.5

130.5

1,652

Genzyme

1,938

488.7

–67.1

194.8

3,516

Immunex

1,319

140.6

–49.6

89.1

808

Multinational Company

Market Cap

Turnover

Profit/ Loss

R&D Costs

Employees

Merck

114,894

18,216.9

3,566

1,366.1

49,100

Johnson & Johnson

78,847

19,531.6

2,652

1,750.1

89,300

Bristol-Myers Squibb

74,174

13,840.2

2,618

1,172.3

51,200

Eli Lilly

55,517

6,749.7

1,400

1,093.3

29,200

Pfizer

35,479

10,386.8

1,772

1,547.1

46,500

 

Source: Ernst & Young, 1998a.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

TABLE 3.3 Entrepreneurial Life Science Highlights (Ecu in Millions)

Europe

 

Public Companies

Industry Total

 

Current Year

Prior Year

Percent Change

Current Year

Prior Year

Percent Change

Financial

Revenues

648

433

50%

2,725

1,721

58%

R&D expense

534

243

120%

1,910

1,508

27%

Net loss

347

73

375%

2,020

1,113

81%

Industry

Number of Companies

61

49

24%

1,036

716

45%

Employees

8,418

5,315

58%

39,045

27,500

42%

USA

 

Public Companies

Industry Total

 

Current Year

Prior Year

Percent Change

Current Year

Prior Year

Percent Change

Financial

Revenues

12,862

10,565

22%

15,985

13,413

19%

R&D expense

5,145

4,226

22%

8,268

7,258

14%

Net loss

1,654

2,021

–18%

3,767

4,134

–9%

Industry

Number of companies

317

294

8%

1,274

1,287

–1%

Employees

94,000

73,000

29%

140,000

118,000

19%

 

Source: Ernst & Young, 1998a.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

FIGURE 3.1 U.S. net trade balance: biotechnology, 1990-1996. Source: NSF, 1998.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

4
LIKELY FUTURE POSITION

Assessment of the publication impact of immunologists and the results of the reputation survey clearly indicate that the United States is in a leadership position in the world in essentially all subfields of immunology. Given current trends, it seems likely that this position will be maintained for the next 5-10 years. However, several factors can adversely affect this position.

There are four potential threats to US leadership in immunology:

  • Funding and resource limitations.

  • Increased competition from Europe and other countries.

  • Clinical immunology and the shift toward HMOs.

  • Training of US students.

Each potential threat is discussed below.

4.1 Funding and Resource Limitations

Current optimism as to the sustained US leadership in immunology is based in large part on a positive attitude toward NIH in the US Congress. That attitude is indicated by the proposals in the last year to double the NIH budget in the next 5-10 years. It must be recognized, however, that this could change. A return to the funding situation of the late 1980s and early 1990s, with low pay grades and administrative cuts in funded-grant applications, could possibly harm the US leadership position by driving investigators and students away from biomedical research in general. It must be recognized that, despite important contributions from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, NIH remains the engine that drives immunology.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

The current practice of protecting intellectual property has the potential to restrict the two-way flow of information between academic institutions and the biotechnology industry in the life sciences, including immunology. That applies to reduction in sharing both research materials and information. If the situation occurs on a broad scale, opportunities to explore promising research projects might be restricted.

The growth in the number of material transfer agreements (MTA) that are often overlegalistic and protective of the broadest possible outcomes of the use of potentially proprietary materials has spawned technology-office bureaucracies in industry and in academic institutions; these offices can delay material transfer for months. It would be of great use if a simple, direct, legally binding, universal MTA for both industry and academe could be created and ratified by agreement or use.

The increasing cost of maintaining mouse facilities has raised serious concern among academic researchers. Although the cost of the mice is reasonable, as is the cost of the component of their care that includes husbandry, housing, feeding, and cleaning, as long as the charges match the costs on a species-specific basis, very large increases in charges often result for the following reasons: specialized veterinary care, which for all species is usually distributed in a species-nonspecific fashion, as are administrative and staff costs; the increased personnel efforts that are required to meet regulatory-compliance needs; and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) indirect-cost allotments.

For example, one US biomedical institution switched from nonspecies-specific allocation of costs to species-specific allocations (using an independent accounting firm) and lowered mouse charges by 30-40% (Stanford Medical School, 1998). Its former assessed charges exceeded by a factor of 2-5 the actual costs at institutions that use only mice for their research. The high mouse charges are common in the United States, but most laboratories in Europe and Japan are costed more directly or are subsidized. If this trend continues, many US researchers will have great difficulty in financially supporting mouse facilities.

Actions by major funding agencies could relieve much of the burden: First, all costs and resulting charges could be strictly species-specific. Second, cost-accounting for simple husbandry could be separated from that for veterinary-intensive care. Third, efforts to simplify (and, when appropriate, eliminate) regulatory-compliance requirements could be undertaken. Fourth, the A-21 set of guidelines from OMB regarding indirect cost charges for federally-funded research could be reevaluated as to whether animal facilities can be removed from the special-services category, so that indirect costs could be lowered.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

4.2 Increased Competition from Europe and Other Countries

In many countries, there appears to be a trend away from the customary hierarchical systems of funding, research, and employment of scientists toward the US system of competitive peer review. There also appears to be a trend toward better funding from government and private agencies and an increasing emergence of the biotechnology industry in many European countries. Together, those factors will enhance the quality of non-US immunology and make it more competitive.

4.3 Clinical Immunology and the Shift toward HMOs

The clinical impact of immunology has long been limited by clinical subspecialization. For example, although the clinical practice of allergy is separate from other aspects of clinical immunology (such as rheumatology), basic and clinical research in the two fields overlap extensively. Until recently, clinical immunology barely existed as a definable field. Although the situation had shown signs of improving, reports (May et al. 1997; Campbell et al. 1997) indicate that the increasing dominance of HMOs in funding medical care in the United States potentially has an increasingly adverse effect on clinical research in general and clinical immunology in particular. This are several reasons. For example, HMOs compete for patients with academic clinicians, and this means that fewer patients are available for academic clinical trials; this poses a loss of a source of income that has traditionally been a source of funding for academic clinical research and a concurrent loss of jobs and opportunities for training of clinical immunologists.

Figure 4.1 shows the number of US citizens and permanent resident PhD students in immunology, and Table 4.1 and Figure 4.2 show the degree to which they are supported by NIH. As shown in Figure 4.1, the number of PhD students in immunology research has roughly doubled over the last 20 years. The percentage of these students supported by NIH has varied between 30 and 40% according to Table 4.1 and Figure 4.2.2 Foreign students are not eligible to receive NIH training grants. The panel believes that this level of funding combined with the increasing time to degree and low wages influenced the quality of US students who entered immunology programs.

4.4 Training of US Students

Panel members perceive the quality of US graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in immunology to be declining. Several factors

2  

 Data in this paragraph from special analysis by NRC Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel of data from the survey of Doctorate Recipients and the Survey of Earned Doctorates for this study.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

FIGURE 4.1 Number of PhD students in immunology in the United States, 1977-1996. Source: Analysis conducted by National Research Council's Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel of Survey of Doctorate Recipients for this study.

FIGURE 4.2 Percentage of US citizen and permanent-resident PhD students in immunology supported by National Institutes of Health, 1977-1996. Source: Analysis conducted by National Research Council's Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel of Survey of Earned Doctorates for this study.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

TABLE 4.1 NIH Trainee and Fellowship Support in Immunology

Year

No. of Doctorates

No. of Citizens or Permanent-Resident Doctorates

No. of Doctorates Supported by NIH

No. of Citizens or Permanent-Resident Supported by NIH

Fraction of Citizen or Permanent-Resident Doctorates Supported By NIH

1977

101

90

39

39

43%

1978

94

86

43

43

50%

1979

134

131

56

55

42%

1980

125

119

49

49

41%

1981

148

141

61

60

43%

1982

151

136

66

66

49%

1983

154

137

58

58

42%

1984

133

121

43

42

35%

1985

124

113

42

42

37%

1986

146

129

54

53

41%

1987

136

113

45

44

39%

1988

179

164

43

43

26%

1989

152

136

49

49

36%

1990

153

129

46

46

36%

1991

177

140

47

46

33%

1992

181

155

60

60

39%

1993

169

131

47

46

35%

1994

161

143

51

51

36%

1995

190

171

62

62

36%

1996

238

198

81

80

40%

 

Source: Analysis conducted by National Research Council's Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel of Survey of Earned Doctorates for this study.

might contribute to a decline in quality. The trend toward department structures in which students are admitted into a large multidisciplinary program before choosing a specialty offers more varied opportunities for students. Because immunology is often, although inaccurately, viewed as too specialized and less interdisciplinary than other fields, students might be choosing other fields that are considered more general. Graduate study (of 5-7 years) followed by 3-5 years of postdoctoral training at salaries less than those of technicians might lead many talented young US citizens to choose other fields of endeavor. There is also a loss of MD talent in the field because of the cost of education and the salary differentials after completion of degree work.

In the United States, while there has been a downward trend in the number of PhD immunologists in academic positions, there has been a steady increase in the number of non-tenure-track appointments as shown in Table 4.2. In the early 1980s, 50% of immunologists with

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

TABLE 4.2 Employment Status of Doctorates in Immunology

 

1973

1975

1977

1979

1981

1983

1985

1987

1989

1991

1993

1995

Tenured and Tenure Track Faculty

0

6

22

146

146

195

166

209

181

306

458

423

Tenured Faculty

0

0

0

1

1

40

101

118

100

137

181

180

Tenured Track Faculty

0

6

22

145

145

155

65

91

81

169

277

243

Other Academic Position

4

9

21

44

105

167

154

260

385

357

430

445

Postdoc Appointments—Academic

0

10

92

131

40

141

172

173

276

305

251

211

2 Year College Faculty

0

0

24

0

0

12

10

2

0

0

0

18

Industry

0

22

0

15

48

82

238

255

316

260

419

556

Federal and Other Government Positions

0

0

11

0

39

24

29

56

97

91

128

161

Self Employed and Others

0

7

48

58

106

126

63

97

93

293

97

311

Postdoc Appointments—Other

9

2

11

20

15

59

114

34

89

89

152

155

Unemployed and Seeking

0

5

0

0

34

1

2

0

12

0

42

10

Elementary and High School Teachers

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

30

18

TOTAL

13

61

229

414

533

807

948

1086

1449

1701

2007

2308

Tenured and Tenure Track Faculty

0.0%

9.8%

9.6%

35.3%

27.4%

24.2%

17.5%

19.2%

12.5%

18.0%

22.8%

18.3%

Tenured Faculty

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.2%

0.2%

5.0%

10.7%

10.9%

6.9%

8.1%

9.0%

7.8%

Tenured Track Faculty

0.0%

9.8%

9.6%

35.0%

27.2%

19.2%

6.9%

8.4%

5.6%

9.9%

13.8%

10.5%

Other Academic Position

30.8%

14.8%

9.2%

10.6%

19.7%

20.7%

16.2%

23.9%

26.6%

21.0%

21.4%

19.3%

Postdoc Appointments—Academic

0.0%

16.4%

40.2%

31.6%

7.5%

17.5%

18.1%

15.9%

19.0%

17.9%

12.5%

9.1%

2 Year College Faculty

0.0%

0.0%

10.5%

0.0%

0.0%

1.5%

1.1%

0.2%

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.8%

Industry

0.0%

36.1%

0.0%

3.6%

9.0%

10.2%

25.1%

23.5%

21.8%

15.3%

20.9%

24.1%

Federal and Other Government Positions

0.0%

0.0%

4.8%

0.0%

7.3%

3.0%

3.1%

5.2%

6.7%

5.3%

6.4%

7.0%

Self Employed and Others

0.0%

11.5%

21.0%

14.0%

19.9%

15.6%

6.6%

8.9%

6.4%

17.2%

4.8%

13.5%

Postdoc Appointments—Other

69.2%

3.3%

4.8%

4.8%

2.8%

7.3%

12.0%

3.1%

6.1%

5.2%

7.6%

6.7%

Unemployed and Seeking

0.0%

8.2%

0.0%

0.0%

6.4%

0.1%

0.2%

0.0%

0.8%

0.0%

2.1%

0.4%

Elementary and High School Teachers

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

1.5%

0.8%

Source: Analysis conducted by the National Research Council's Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel of Survey of Doctorate Recipients for this study.

Note that this is a sample study.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

academic appointments had tenure or were in a tenure-track. In 1995, the proportioned had decreased to about 40%. In the last 15 years, there has been an even more rapid increase in immunologists in industrial careers. Only about 10% of PhD immunologists went into industrial positions after completing their training in 1981, and almost 25% in 1995. The unemployment rate has remained very low3. Data for comparisons with other countries were unavailable.

3  

 Data in this paragraph from special analysis by NRC Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel of data from the Survey of Doctorate Recipients for this study.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

5
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

The multiple assessment methods used in this study resulted in very similar findings, although the benchmarking process was limited by a scarcity of rigorous and unbiased data. A scientifically rigorous benchmarking process was not possible, because independent and unbiased adequate data could not be identified. The methods, despite their flaws, were the best available to us. Their results, with the panel's judgment, support the conclusions presented below.

5.1 The United States Is the World Leader in All the Major Subfields of Immunology But Is Only Among the World Leaders in Some Specific Sub-Subfields.

On the basis of the results of three benchmarking methods—a virtual-congress survey, citation analysis, and publication counts—the United States appears to be preeminent in immunology. Furthermore, it leads in all four of the subfields examined: cellular immunology, molecular immunology, immunogenetics, and clinical aspects of immunology. That is not a surprising result, given the size of the US enterprise, which writes some 60% of the immunology papers published each year. However, what is of greater interest, given the size of the enterprise, is that in some sub-subfields the United States is only among the world leaders: lymphocyte development and self-nonself recognition, inherited immunodeficiency, tumor immunology, and transplantation and immunosuppressive drugs.

The inherent flaws of each method make rigorous and exact assessment of US leadership impossible. However, these approaches do yield

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

an estimation of the present standing of the United States in immunology. Because the exploration of immunology is an international endeavor, the high degree of cooperation and collaboration among US and non-US scientists should be highlighted.

Current US leadership has been documented by a number of quantitative and semiquantitative measures, but these measures do not show the breakthrough discoveries that are recognized by such awards as the Nobel Prize (half the immunology awardees were non-citizens). Nor do they reveal that a very significant fraction of the leading US scientists received some of or all their training in non-US institutions, mainly as nationals in other countries; several of these were Nobel laureates for research done outside of the United States.

5.2 Flexibility to Pursue Original and Innovative Research Ideas Has Attracted Both Domestic and International Human Capital. Federal, State, and Private Funding have all Contributed to a Climate Ripe for this Innovative Research.

The United States has been able to attract talented foreign students to be both graduate and postgraduate investigators in immunology laboratories to a greater degree than other countries have been able to attract US students. That is in part due to the research opportunities available within the United States for these students as they seek to advance their careers. In the United States, more than in other countries, high-school and college students have the opportunity to gain research and analytical experience by working in laboratories and attending specialized science programs.

The NIH has been the major federal funding agency for immunology research. The strength of this system is that it is largely an investigator-initiated, peer-reviewed, and merit-based system of awarding grants. Critically, it is the individual investigator—rather than the department chair or other research colleagues, as it often is in many European countries—that has the authority and autonomy to pursue a specific research interest. Unlike many foreign countries, the United States supports research institutions and medical schools through state governments and private foundations, and this allows the freedom and flexibility to develop innovative research programs.

5.3 Industrial Interests Have Fostered Many Striking Breakthroughs in Immunology.

Substantial funding of the biotechnology industry by venture capitalists and other investors has resulted in the successful generation of many products to sell in the international market. Venture-capital financing of the biotechnology industry increased by 11.7% from $697 million in 1996 to $790 million in 1997. (BIO, 1997; BIO, 1998) In addition to creating an economic benefit to the United States, the

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
×

success of the US biotech industry has resulted in the creation of new jobs for immunology graduates. And, the collaboration between academic and industrial researchers has allowed scientific discoveries to be rapidly developed and commercialized, in contrast with what has been observed in many other countries.

5.4 A Scarcity of Large-Scale Clinical Trials in Immunology Can Be Attributed to Shortages of Funding and of Qualified Personnel. In Addition, Increasing Dominance of Managed Care Means That Fewer Patients Are Available to Academic Institutions for Clinical Trials.

The expense of a large-scale clinical trial often proves prohibitive, especially when there is fierce competition among institutions and between research interests for limited funding dollars. European countries, because of their centralized government control of medical schools and research institutions have been able to support large-scale clinical trials more successfully than the United States. Anecdotal evidence indicates a decrease in trained clinical immunologists to serve as principal investigators for such trials in the United States. Lack of funding and training opportunities has contributed to the growing scarcity. Furthermore, the advent of the managed care has decreased the patient base for this type of clinical research.

5.5 Shifting Federal and Industry Priorities, a Potential Reduction in Access to Domestic and Foreign Talent, and the Increasing Cost of Maintaining Mouse Facilities Could Curtail US Ability to Capitalize on Leadership Opportunities.

Continued US leadership in the various subfields of immunology is not guaranteed. It depends on trends and sudden changes in the United States and abroad in funding, human resources, and infrastructure support. NIH has received increases in its annual budget from Congress, and the increases have resulted in the funding of more investigator-initiated grants in many fields of research, including immunology.

The trend of creating multidisciplinary graduate programs at large universities has resulted in competition for immunology graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. In addition, there is a substantial decrease in medical doctors seeking to specialize in immunology, in part probably, because of the cost of such an education and the low salary offered during the training period. Other countries, particularly those in Europe, seem to be moving away from the restrictive funding and tight employment environments that have been characteristic of their scientific research institutions. That raises the possibility that foreign students will elect to seek training and jobs in their own respective countries. The loss of talented students in immunology, both domestic

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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and international, would have profound implications for the ability of the United States to maintain its leadership role.

One subject of particular concern to the panel was the lack of adequate funding and specific cost-based accounting for maintaining mouse facilities at most research institutions. Because much immunology research involves the use of mice, this resource is critical to the development of the field.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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REFERENCES

Bio, 1998. The 1998-99 Bio Editors and Reporters Guide to Biotechnology. http://www.bio.org

Bio, 1997. The 1997-98. Bio Editors and Reporters Guide to Biotechnology. http://www.bio.org


Ernst & Young. European Life Sciences 98 : Continental Shift, London, United Kingdom: Ernst & Young. April 1998b.

Ernst & Young. Biotech 1999: Bridging the Gap. Palo Alto, California: Ernst & Young. December 1998a, http://www.ey.com.


May, Ernest, Anthony Mazzashi, Rebecca J. Levin, David Blake, and Paul Griner. 1997. Relationship Between National Institutes of Health Research Awards to US Medical Schools and Managed Care Presentation. Journal of the American Medical Association, 278: 3.


NSF (National Science Foundation). Science and Engineering Indicators . NSB 98-1. Washington D.C.: 1998.


Stanford Medical School, 1998. Conversation Between Irving Weissman and Michael Hindery, Associate Dean, Stanford Medical School regarding Cost of Animal Care Facilities.


Weissman, Joel S., David Blumenthal, and Eric Campbell. 1997. Relationship Between Market Competition and the Activities and Attitudes of Medical School Faculty. Journal of the American Medical Association. 278:3.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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APPENDIX
PANEL AND STAFF BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION

Panel

Irving L. Weissman (Chair) received his MD from Stanford University in 1965. He pursued training in experimental pathology at Oxford University and continued his postgraduate fellowship at Stanford University. Dr. Weissman is the Karel and Avice Beekhuis Professor of Cancer Biology, professor of pathology, professor of developmental biology, and, by courtesy professor of biological sciences at Stanford University. He has received the Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Institutes of Health, the Pasarow Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cancer Biology and the Harvey Lecture, and the Montana Conservationist of the Year Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the California Academy of Medicine, and the Israel Immunological Society. He has served as president of the American Association of Immunologists. He was the cofounder of the biotechnology companies Systemix, Inc., and Stem Cells, Inc.

James Allison received his PhD from the University of Texas, Austin in 1973. He did postdoctoral work at the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in La Jolla. Dr. Allison is professor of immunology, director of the Cancer Research Laboratory, and a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator at the University of California, Berkeley. Selected awards and honors include a merit award from the National Institutes of Health and, election into the National Academy of Sciences and the American

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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Academy of Microbiology. He serves as a councilor to the American Association of Immunologists and is a member of the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Cancer Institute.

Frederick W. Alt received his PhD in biological sciences at Stanford University, where he worked with Robert Schimke and discovered the phenomenon of gene amplification in the context of cellular resistance to anticancer drugs. In 1982, he joined the faculty of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in New York, where he became professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics and, professor of microbiology. In 1987, he became a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator at Columbia University. In 1991, Dr. Alt became senior investigator at the Center for Blood Research in Boston, in addition to serving as a Howard Hughes Investigator at Boston's Children's Hospital. He is professor of genetics and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, chair of the NIH allergy and immunology study section and of the Irvington Institute Scientific Advisory Board. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Microbiology, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his many honors are the Irma T. Hirschl Career Scientist Award, the Searle Scholars Award, the Mallinckrodt Scholar Award, and an NIH Merit Award.

Harald von Boehmer studied medicine at the Universities of Gottingen, Frieburg and Munich and prepared his medical thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry. He is an adjunct professor in the Department of Pathology, University of Florida, Gainsville, and professor of immunology, University of Basel, and, Faculte de Medecine Necker Enfants Malades, Descartes University, Paris. He is the director of 373 of the National Unite Institute of Science and Medical Research, France. He is a member of the Institut Universitaire de France, Academia Europaea, the European Molecular Biology Organization, the New York Academy of Sciences, Gesellschaft fur Immunologie, the American Association of Immunologists, and the Scandinavian Society for Immunology. Dr. von Boehmer has been awarded the Louis Jeantet Prize for Medicine, the Avery-Landsteiner Prize for Immunology, the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedt Prize, and the Korber Prize for European Science. He chairs the Executive Committee of the European Journal of Immunology.

Max D. Cooper received his MD (1957) and training in Pediatrics (1958-1960) at Tulane Medical School. He was a house officer and research assistant at the Hospital for Sick Children, London(1960-1961), and a pediatric-allergy fellow at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (1961-1962). His postdoctoral research in the

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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laboratory of Robert Good (1963-1967), led to the definition of separate T-and B-cell lineages. Dr. Cooper is professor of medicine, pediatrics, pathology, and microbiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; senior scientist at the University of Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Center; professor of medicine and director of the Division of Developmental and Clinical Immunology at the University of Alabama; and a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and in 1990 was elected to the Institute of Medicine. He was inducted as a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Dr. Cooper served as president of the American Association of Immunologists and of the Clinical Immunology Society. Among his awards are the 3M Life Sciences Award, the Sandoz Prize for Immunology, and the American College of Physicians Award.

Irwin Feller is the director of the Institute for Policy Research and Evaluation and professor of economics at the Pennsylvania State University, where he has been on the faculty since 1963. Dr. Feller was an American Society for Mechanical Engineering Pennsylvania State Fellow for 1996-1997. Dr. Feller's research interests include the economics of academic research, the university's role in technology-based economic development, and the evaluation of federal and state technology programs. He was chair of the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Laurie H. Glimcher received her MD at Harvard Medical School in 1976. She was an intern and resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and a postdoctoral fellow under the direction of William Paul at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Glimcher is a physician in the Division of Rheumatology and Immunology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and Irene Heinz Given Professor of Immunology at the Harvard School of Public Health. She received a Merit Award from NIH, was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and received the Lee S. Howley Award from the Arthritis Foundation. She serves on the corporate board of directors for Bristol-Myers Squibb. She is a councilor of the American Association of Immunologists.

David V. Goeddel received his PhD in biochemistry in 1977 from the University of Colorado in Boulder. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Stanford Research Institute. Dr. Goeddel is the president and chief executive officer of Tularik, Inc. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Microbiology. Dr. Goeddel serves on the editorial review boards of Immunity and Nature Biotechnology. His

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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research interests include cytokine signaling mechanisms and small-molecule therapeutics that act through regulation of gene expression.

Hugh McDevitt received his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1955. He was an intern in medicine at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, a resident in medicine at Bellevue Hospital, and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. McDevitt is professor of medicine and of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He has received the 3M Life Sciences Award, the Paul Erlich Prize, and Outstanding Investigator Award from NCI and NIH, the Barbara Davis Diabetes Award, and the Paul Klemperer Award from the New York Academy of Sciences. He became a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1977, of the Institute of Medicine in 1983, and of the Royal Society of London in 1994.

Diane Mathis received a doctorate in biology from the University of Rochester, New York in 1977. She is the director of research, INSERM, LGME, and Institut de Genetique et de Biologie Moleculaire et Cellulaire (IGBMC) in Strasbourg, France. She serves on the editorial boards of the European Journal of Immunology, Immunology Today, Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Sciences de Paris, Science, Cell, Current Biology, Journal of Experimental Medicine, and Immunity.

Gustav Nossal studied medicine at the University of Sydney and after 2 years of residency at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital moved to Melbourne to work as a research fellow at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, where he received a PhD. Apart from 2 years as an assistant professor of genetics at Stanford University, 1 year at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, and 1 year as a special consultant to the World Health Organization, Sir Nossal's research career has been at the Hall Institute. He was the director of the institute from 1965 until he retired in 1996. Sir Nossal was also professor of Medical Biology at the University of Melbourne. Sir Nossal's eminence in immunology has been recognized by his election as president of the 25,000-member International Union of Immunological Societies. Included among his international honors is his election to the US National Academy of Sciences and his membership in the Academie des Sciences (France). He has also served as president of the Australian Academy of Science and chair of the global programme for vaccines and immunization of the World Health Organization. Sir Nossal was knighted in 1977 and made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1989.

Roger M. Perlmutter received his MD and PhD from Washington University (St. Louis) in 1979. Thereafter, he pursued clinical training

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco. He was a lecturer in the Division of Biology at the California Institute of Technology, where he studied the genetic basis of antibody repertoire diversification. He joined the departments of medicine and biochemistry and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Washington (Seattle), where he became professor and founding chair of the Department of Immunology. In 1997, he left the University of Washington to assume responsibility for drug-discovery efforts at the Merck Research Laboratories in Rahway, NJ. Dr. Perlmutter has served on numerous scientific advisory and review panels and is a councilor of the American Association of Immunologists and a member of the Board of Directors of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

Craig B. Thompson received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1977. His internship and residency were at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. Dr. Thompson is a professor in the Department of Medicine and Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Chicago and a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator. He has received the Jerome W. Conn Award for Distinguished Research by a Junior Faculty Member. He serves on the editorial boards of Cell, Immunity, and International Immunology.

Don C. Wiley was an NSF graduate fellow in biophysics at Harvard University and received his PhD in biophysics in 1971. Dr. Wiley is a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at Harvard University, a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator, a research associate in medicine at the Boston Children's Hospital, and an affiliate of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. He has been elected to numerous honorary societies, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Academy of Sciences. Among his awards are the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Fundamental Immunology, the V.D. Mattia Award, the Passano Foundation Award, the Emil von Behring Prize, the Gairdner Foundation International Award, the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, and the Rose Payne Distinguished Scientist Award.

Staff

Deborah D. Stine is the study director and associate director of the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP). She has worked on various projects throughout the National Academy of Sciences complex since 1989. She received a National Research Council group award for her first study for COSEPUP on policy implications of

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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greenhouse warming and a Commission on Life Sciences staff citation for her work in risk assessment and management. Other studies have addressed graduate education, responsible conduct of research, careers in science and engineering, environmental remediation, the national biological survey, and corporate environmental stewardship. Dr. Stine received a PhD in public administration, specializing in policy analysis, from the American University. Before coming to the Academy, she was a mathematician for the US Air Force, an air-pollution engineer for the state of Texas, and an air-issues manager for the Chemical Manufacturers Association.

Tamara Zemlo is a Cancer Prevention Fellow at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), where she is researching the risk factors for the progression of low-grade cervical disease to cervical cancer. She is also participating in analyzing data from the ASCUS/LSIL Triage Study, which is an NCI-sponsored clinical trial designed to determine the optimal management plan for low-grade cervical cytologic abnormalities. She received a PhD in oncology from the University of Wisconsin—Madison, where she studied the transforming properties of papillomavirus replication proteins in tissue culture, and a Master's of Public Health from Harvard University. As part of her postdoctoral training, she has an internship at COSEPUP.

Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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Suggested Citation:"Attachment III: International Benchmarking of US Immunology Research." National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. 2000. Experiments in International Benchmarking of US Research Fields. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9784.
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How can the federal government gauge the overall health of scientific research--as a whole and in its parts--and determine whether national funding adequately supports national research objectives? It is feasible to monitor US performance with field-by-field peer assessments. This might be done through the establishment of independent panels consisting of researchers who work in a field, individuals who work in closely related fields, and research "users" who follow the field closely. Some of these individuals should be outstanding foreign scientists in the field being examined. This technique of comparative international assessments is also known as international benchmarking.

Experiments in International Benchmarking of U.S. Research Fields evaluates the feasibility and utility of the benchmarking technique. In order to do this, the report internationally benchmarks three fields: mathematics, immunology, and materials science and engineering, then summarizes the results of these experiments.

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