Why Immigration Reform Could Benefit Scientific Research

The United States is still the global leader in medical research. For now. An interview with the National Institutes of Health’s Francis Collins.

Immigration reform advocates support an American flag while taking part in a National Day of Dignity and Respect march on October 5, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Thousands of people marched for comprehensive immigration reform in more than 150 events nationwide.
National Journal
Mark Micheli
Nov. 22, 2013, 10:40 a.m.

The United States is still the glob­al lead­er in med­ic­al re­search. For now. Fran­cis Collins, dir­ect­or of the Na­tion­al In­sti­tutes of Health, is sound­ing the alarm, warn­ing that oth­er coun­tries are “set­ting out to eat our lunch” and take the top spot the U.S. has held for dec­ades. China, he says, is look­ing to de­throne the U.S. in spend­ing on med­ic­al re­search, not just as a per­cent­age of GDP but in total spend­ing with­in five years. As glob­al com­pet­i­tion in­creases, Collins says im­mig­ra­tion re­form—spe­cific­ally, modi­fy­ing the visa sys­tem—is key to our abil­ity to stay out in front. “We’re not hand­ling this in the way that you would want to if what you wanted to be was an on­go­ing mag­net for the best and bright­est to come to our shores,” he said.