‘Hounded out of U.S., scientist invents fast coronavirus test in China’

Science & Health

scientist

SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng

The ill-considered, badly executed Trump administration “crackdown on scholars with ties to China has triggered a reverse brain drain,” say David Armstrong, Annie Waldman, and Daniel Golden in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

On the fourth floor of the University of Florida cancer-research building, the once-bustling laboratory overseen by professor Tán Wèihóng 谭蔚泓 is in disarray. White lab coats are strewn over workbenches. Storage drums and boxes, including some marked with biohazard warnings, are scattered across the floor. A pink note stuck to a machine that makes copies of DNA samples indicates the device is broken.

No one is here on this weekday afternoon in February. On a shelf, wedged next to instruction manuals and binders of lab records, is a reminder of bygone glory: a group photo of Tan surrounded by more than two dozen smiling students and employees.

As the Florida lab sat vacant, a different scene unfolded half a world away in China, where a team of 300 scientists and researchers worked furiously to develop a fast, easy test for COVID-19. The leader of that timely project? Tan, the former Florida researcher.

The 59-year-old Tan is a stark example of the intellectual firepower fleeing the U.S. as a result of a Trump administration crackdown on university researchers with ties to China.

Read the whole thing and cheer if you’re a Chinese government planner, weep if you’re an American.