Jian Ni spent more than a decade outside of China, earning his PhD at Cambridge University and joining Human Genome Sciences of Rockville, Md., when it was still a small company. He kept close tabs on events back home and regularly traveled to China to keep in touch with colleagues. When he finally returned last April to start his own biotechnology company, his contacts in Asia and the United States proved essential to his success in obtaining corporate partners. "We are focusing on licensing technology from abroad, developing our own technology," Ni says, "and we have collaborations with other biotech companies in China."

HOME LURES Such scenarios become more common as the growth in foreign-born researchers in the United States continues. In 1997, the number of foreign-born postdoctoral fellows in American academic institutions exceeded the number of homegrown postdocs for the first time, and the gap has been widening ever...

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