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Donald Trump Presidency likely to spark “Brain Drain” as Foreign-born Researchers Educated in American Universities may leave Country

57.11 per cent, believe that the president-elect will hurt research funding of Health (NIH), a public biomedical research facility

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New York, November 12, 2016: Adding to the anxiety that the US Presidential election results have caused, a large number of scientists in the country, according to a survey, now fear that a Donald Trump presidency might spark a “brain drain” as foreign-born researchers educated in American universities will be more likely to leave the country.

Thousands of people all across the US marched down the streets and inter-states opposing Republican Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, the media reports said.

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According to the survey of more than 1,600 professionals, from industry and academia, 46.78 per cent believe that during the reign of Trump scientists born in other countries but educated in the US will be more likely to make an exit.

On other hand, 49.81 per cent opined that overseas researchers will still seek academic positions or jobs in the US biotech industry, while 30.21 per cent said they were uncertain, and 19.97 per cent, disagreed.

“The biotechnology industry faces the possibility of a brain drain, and this is most alarming,” said Mary Ann Liebert, founder and CEO of the the journal Genetic Engineering And Biotechnology News (GEN).

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Further, 57.11 per cent, believe that the president-elect will hurt research funding of Health (NIH) — a public biomedical research facility. As much as 24.26 per cent said it would not make a difference, and 9.79 per cent said Trump’s presidency would prove positive.

While 51.74 per cent, believe that science-technology-engineering-mathematics (STEM) education will not be a priority under a Trump administration, 29.25 per cent are uncertain.

However, 19.01 per cent believe that a Trump administration will focus attention on STEM education, as during the campaign to the White House, Trump had hinted at possible support for higher NIH budgets, even as he has called for cutting federal spending.

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“We must make the commitment to invest in science, engineering, healthcare and other areas that will make the lives of Americans better, safer and more prosperous,” Trump had said.

Whether Trump will make measures that benefit biopharma industry, remains uncertain, the researchers noted in the journal Genetic Engineering And Biotechnolgy News. (IANS)

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Brian Gitta: A Malaria Test That Would Not Need Blood Samples

The new malaria test kit works by shining a red beam of light onto a finger

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A health service worker takes a blood sample for a malaria test in Dajabon, Dominican Republic, on the border with Haiti, Oct. 6, 2009. A test that doesn't require a needle or blood has won the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation
A health service worker takes a blood sample for a malaria test in Dajabon, Dominican Republic, on the border with Haiti, Oct. 6, 2009. A test that doesn't require a needle or blood has won the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, VOA

Languishing with fever and frustrated by delays in diagnosing his illness, Brian Gitta came up with a bright idea: a malaria test that would not need blood samples or specialized laboratory technicians.

That inspiration has won the 25-year-old Ugandan computer scientist a prestigious engineering prize for a noninvasive malaria test kit that he hopes will be widely used across Africa.

For developing the reusable test kit known as Matibabu, Gitta this month was awarded the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. The award by the Royal Academy of Engineering in Britain comes with $32,940.

Malaria is the biggest killer in Africa, and the sub-Saharan region accounts for about 80 percent of the world’s malaria cases and deaths. Cases rose to 216 million in 2016, up from 211 million cases in 2015, according to the latest World Malaria Report, released late last year. Malaria deaths fell by 1,000, to 445,000.

The mosquito-borne disease is a challenge to prevent, with increasing resistance reported to both drugs and insecticides.

No needles

The new malaria test kit works by shining a red beam of light onto a finger to detect changes in the shape, color and concentration of red blood cells, all of which are affected by malaria. The results are sent within a minute to a computer or mobile phone linked to the device.

A Portugal-based firm has been contracted to produce the components for Matibabu, the Swahili word for “treatment.”

“It’s a perfect example of how engineering can unlock development, in this case by improving health care,” Rebecca Enonchong, Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation judge, said in a statement. “Matibabu is simply a game changer.”

A woman carrying a baby holds a treated mosquito net during a malaria prevention action at Ajah in Eti Osa East district of Lagos, Nigeria, April 21, 2016.
A woman carrying a baby holds a treated mosquito net during a malaria prevention action at Ajah in Eti Osa East district of Lagos, Nigeria, April 21, 2016. VOA

Gitta and five colleagues, all trained in computer science or engineering, developed an affordable, bloodless test that does not need a specialist to operate. The new test will be suitable for use in Africa’s rural areas, where most cases of malaria occur, because it will not depend on sending blood samples to a distant laboratory.

Others are also working to fill the need for quicker, easier malaria tests. There are more than 200 rapid diagnostic test products for malaria on the market, according to the WHO.

80 percent accurate now

The fifth-generation prototype of Matibabu, with an accuracy rate of 80 percent, is still a work in process. Gitta and his group aim to refine the device until it achieves an accuracy rate exceeding 90 percent.

Matibabu has yet to be formally subjected to all the necessary clinical trials under Ugandan safety and ethics regulations.

“It excites me as a clinician,” said Medard Bitekyerezo, a Ugandan physician who chairs the National Drug Authority. “I think the National Drug Authority will approve it.”

The government should invest in the project so that its developers don’t struggle financially, he added. The unit cost of the latest prototype is about $100.

Despite the optimism, Gitta has found a hurdle he didn’t anticipate: Some patients are skeptical of unfamiliar technology.

“The doctors will tell you that some people will not leave the hospital until their children have been pricked, and until they have been given anti-malaria drugs and painkillers, even if the kid is not sick,” he said.

Also read: From Radio Signals A Pill Could Tell About Gut Health And Help Doctors

“We think we are developing for hospitals first, so that people can first get attached to the brand, and gain the trust of patients over time.” (VOA)