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北美华人社团 - 北美华人网吧

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    半数华人学者愿回国 中国吸引最杰出海归

    王飞 2009-11-24 21:02
    在清华大学刚成立的生命科学院,实验室仪器尚在安装,但走廊上贴满的告示已经预示着初战告捷——来自美国斯坦福、哈佛和其他海外名牌大学的科研人员,已受聘该学院。院长施一公曾是美国普林斯顿大学研究细胞死亡的教授。他说,他们的任务是建立世界一流的科研中心,以“解决生物学的基本之谜”。

      中国正加大力度吸引该国最杰出人才回国,而施就属于这场运动的最大“俘获物”之一。去年,北京发起了“千人计划”,为顶尖华人科学家提供100万元人民币的科研资金、丰厚的薪资和大笔实验室资金。

      “千人计划”的目标,是解决中国立志成为创新强国的最大障碍:有经验的科研人员的严重短缺。现在,中国政府对科研投资加大,大陆的大学岗位变得更有吸引力。美国西北大学前神经科学教授饶毅说,10年前,在美华人科学家每100人只有一人考虑回国,到现在,已有半数人会考虑,“还有机会招到哈佛大学的后起之秀”。饶毅现任北京大学生命科学院院长。

      提高薪酬待遇确实有帮助,但归国人员说,吸引他们回国的主要原因,还在于有机会从零开始建立一个科研项目。美国实验室苦于缺少资金,而中国正在扩展。施说,他在中国的收入低于在普林斯顿,他在美国管理一个结构生物学实验室,并参与创立了一个药物研究公司。但在清华,他帮助设计了一个生命科学项目,有 1500名学生。迄今,施一公已从美国延揽了22位科研人员成立实验室,并已对其余15位发出邀请。

      有时候,归国人员享有的高待遇,可能导致与国内教师关系紧张。运用现代科学研究中医的专家魏佳(音译)说,他在上海交通大学的年薪仅相当于1万美元。 “这真气人,高薪只留给那些还在美国的人。”去年,魏离开上海到美国北卡罗来纳大学负责一个新研究中心,他在那里的年薪达6位数。

      不过仍有许多人不为所动。卡内基·梅隆大学电子工程学教授吉米·朱的母校,以14万美元年薪、住房补贴和超过100万美元实验室启动资金,吸引他回武汉。但朱决定继续待在美国,部分原因在于他认为,中国国内“科研环境尚未成熟到能促进真正的创新”。而且认为,中国一些官员往往根据个人关系、而非科研成就审批科研拨款。

      归国人员试图改变这种状况。例如,清华大学现在为顶尖科学家提供较长期的拨款,允许他们自由进行真正的创新研究。施院长说,新课程将更注重培养学生解决问题而非死记硬背的能力。他说,随着这样的改变落到实处,中国应该会取得将理论研究转化为高科技产品的诀窍。他预测说:“当人才到位后,改变会水到渠成。”(Pete Engardio 朱庆和/译 美国《商业周刊》杂志11月19日)


    China's Reverse Brain Drain

    Beijing is making progress in its effort to lure back top Chinese scientists working overseas

    http://images.businessweek.com/mz/09/48/370/0948_58scientist.jpg

    Tsinghua's Shi is a former Princeton professor and a leading cell researcher Quentin Shih

    Beijing - The lab equipment is still being installed in the new life sciences school at Beijing's Tsinghua University. But the hallways are already lined with posters heralding an early achievement: the hiring of Chinese faculty from Stanford, Harvard, and other elite institutions overseas. The mission, says Dean Shi Yigong, a former Princeton professor who is a pioneer in the study of cell death, is to build a world-class research center to "solve the basic mysteries of biology."

    Shi is one of the biggest catches in a mounting campaign to lure China's brightest minds back home. Last year, Beijing launched the Thousand Talents Program, offering top scientists grants of 1 million yuan (about $146,000), fat salaries, and generous lab funding.

    The goal is to address the biggest roadblock to China's aspirations of becoming an innovation powerhouse: an acute shortage of seasoned research scientists. Accomplished physicists, biologists, and mathematicians—who might produce technological breakthroughs and build key research programs—have long balked at low pay and a university system marred by corruption, cronyism, and lax standards. But now, China's economic boom and surging government investment in research are making mainland university posts more attractive. A decade ago, only 1 in 100 leading Chinese scientists in the U.S. would have considered returning, says Rao Yi, a former Northwestern neuroscience professor who is dean of Peking University's life sciences school. Today, he says, half would. "Now, there is a chance of recruiting the rising stars of Harvard," says Rao.

    Higher pay helps, but returnees say the main allure is the chance to build a science program from the ground up. While U.S. labs are struggling for funds, China is expanding. Shi says he earns less in China than at Princeton, where he ran a structural biology lab and helped found a drug-discovery company. But at Tsinghua, he helped design a life sciences program with 1,500 students. So far, Shi has hired 22 scientists from the U.S. to set up labs and has made offers to an additional 15.

    HUGE PAY DISPARITIES

    Sometimes the perks lavished on returnees can create tension with existing faculty. Wei Jia, an expert in using modern science to study traditional Chinese medicine, says his annual pay package at Shanghai's Jiatong University was worth about $10,000. "It really is irritating that the good pay is reserved for people who are still in the U.S.," Wei says. Last year, Wei left Shanghai to run a new research center at the University of North Carolina, where his package is in six figures.

    There are still many holdouts. Carnegie Mellon University electrical engineering professor Jimmy Zhu was tempted by his alma mater in Wuhan with a $140,000 salary, subsidized housing, and more than $1 million to start a lab. But Zhu decided to stay at CMU, in part because he doesn't think "the scientific environment has matured enough to promote real innovation." Also, Chinese officials tend to award grants based on personal connections rather than scientific merit.

    Returnees are trying to change that. Tsinghua, for instance, now makes longer-term grants to top scientists, allowing them wider latitude to conduct truly innovative research. And a new curriculum will focus more on problem-solving than rote learning, Shi says. As such changes take root, he says, China should acquire a knack for turning theoretical research into high-tech products. "When you have the right people," he predicts, "changes will happen spontaneously."

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