Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Canary in the R&D Mine: Big Pharma and the Early Phase of U.S. Brain Drain?

I frequently hammer on the importance to the U.S. economy of drawing and keeping top talent (our own, and from abroad as well). Conservatives, if you're waiting for liberals to get this, you're going to be waiting forever. These days I have a Google News Alert set for "Roche" and "Genentech", not surprising since
I consult at Genentech. Consequently, in one article which also discussed Roche's intentions in China, the following passage jumped out (emphasis my own):

The Swiss drugmaker [Roche] is also looking to hire “excellent” scientists in China and is transferring more chemistry-related research to partners there, [Global R&D Head] Babiss said.

“Most of the people that we’ve hired that have come back were trained at Harvard and MIT and these are brilliant people,” Babiss said, referring to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “At the beginning it was chemists, now the biologists are coming over. More of them are going to come back to China and shape that environment.”

Meanwhile, we have yahoos trying to pass laws like this one, and if there's another purpose besides making our kids stupid, I don't know what it could be. There are many other examples just so far in 2009; that's only the most recent one. Meanwhile, there are many problems with the Chinese government, but one of them is not that they hire mushy-headed whiners to interfere with their science and engineering curricula. They're serious about success. So, American legislators: all we're asking for is that our kids to have a fair shot at competing with business elsewhere in the world. That's all. Even if you can't help, do you think you can at least avoid being an obstruction?

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