Yet, the rising number of papers published by Chinese scientists in leading journals shows that science in China is progressing rapidly. For example, about 8% of the papers published in 2012 in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry were from China-based researchers. This compares with only 3% in 2008. One reason for the improvement is that for the past 20 or 30 years, bright Chinese graduates have gone abroad to learn in the best labs, and many of them have returned to China. Duan’s assertion about the small pool of experienced drug discovery scientists in China appears to be less and less true.
The improvement in China’s research capabilities is happening while the number of opportunities in Western countries is shrinking. European and U.S. research groups have room for fewer young Chinese chemists nowadays because of reductions in government funding, according to Kuiling Ding, an SIOC professor who is currently the institute’s director. These days, Ding says, not every SIOC grad is dying to go abroad. “Some of them just want to find a stable job paying a good income in a fine city like Shanghai,” he notes. Whereas about 90% of SIOC graduates went overseas in earlier decades, only about half do now.
It remains to be seen whether the SIOC graduates who stay in China will be able to match the U.S. achievements of Ying, Huang, and Duan.I wonder how to track this number? It would be a fascinating measurement of the relative differences in quality of graduate education between the United States and China in organic chemistry.
[Say, I wonder if there was something going on politically in China in 1989?]